Baptism Nov 7 2009

Baptism Nov 7 2009

Friday, July 15, 2011

Final Words

The final days of my last week were amazing! I had the privilege of baptizing Emil. Richard was also baptized. On my last day, Sunday, we gave the Holy Ghost to both Richard and Emil, and gave the Priesthood to Ed. What a great way to finish off!! I have loved my mission! Being home now is still a bit weird, I'm still adjusting and I imagine that it will take a couple more weeks to get back into the swing of things. Like I said last week, I prepared two papers, my most spiritual experiences and what my mission has meant to me. I would like to share both of those with all of you, you'll just have to forgive me for their length! Thank you so much for all of your support and prayers, I felt them each day, and needed them! I love you all... I did it!!

My Most Spiritual Experiences

My Most Spiritual Experiences
Elder Burns
Washington Spokane July 09-11

I'm sure that everyone feels the same way; it is very difficult to decide on a most spiritual experience. With that being said, I have two categories that I’m going to pull my thoughts from. Number one: Spiritual experiences that involve other people, such as investigators. And Number two: Spiritual experiences of my own. I'm trying to keep in mind also that I'll be writing about what my mission has meant to me, so I'll try not to overlap the two.
As I discuss the most spiritual experiences I've had with my investigators, I'll be accounting them in the order in which they occurred. The first is named Cody Lorenz. Cody was actually not an investigator, but a less active. He was in my very first area, in the 15th ward in Spokane Valley. He was a senior in high school. During this time I was "temporarily" reassigned to the Washington Spokane mission. When my Mongolian district in the MTC found out that we were all getting reassigned "temporarily" to await our visas, we each knew that there was a reason why. We each believed that there was someone we had to find, someone that we were meant for.
After a couple times of meeting with Cody and his family, I began to feel a strong connection with him. One morning, during my personal study, my mind was turned to Cody and also, my current situation. I felt like I needed to pray. As I did, I felt a very strong, personal answer that he is the reason I was there and that I needed to help get him activated and prepared to serve a mission.
Over the next few weeks I shared with Cody my testimony, and shared with him powerful scriptures that helped me as I was contemplating serving a mission. I'll never forget the lesson where I told him that he was the reason, the spirit was very powerful. I never did find out whatever happened to Cody. But, before I left the area he was passing the sacrament, and that was good to see.
For me, what I learned from this experience has more to offer than the experience itself. You see, I've contemplated this a lot on my mission if I got a specific answer from the Lord that the reason why I was temporarily reassigned here was for Cody, why was it not temporary? What I learned is that its not so much that there are specific people prepared just for you to teach in a specific area, but rather, no matter where you are or who you're with, the Lord will lead you and will prepare the way for you to find and teach those that will listen to you, that are prepared just for you. Elder Bednar talked about this, about how if the keys are going somewhere, the Lord has prepared someone for the keys. Now, I hope I conveyed my thoughts clearly on this, because it means a lot to me and has helped me throughout my mission to understand why certain things happen the way they do.
The next experience I wish to share comes from when I was serving in Beacon Hill with Elder Moleni. When I got to the area there was a man named Will Thornton. Will had been taught for a while and already had a baptismal date set, and has had for quite some time, but had to keep pushing it back due to drug use. His wife, Evelyn, had the same problem about six months back when the missionaries started teaching them. But she was able to quit back then and be baptized while he was not able to do so. By the time I arrived on the scene, Will had quit everything in the word of wisdom except for marijuana, and he just couldn't break it, couldn't let go.
I remember that as Elder Moleni and I were creating a lesson plan for Will during one of our companionship studies, my mind reflected back to the MTC. My companion, Elder Marquis, and I were both struggling. In my personal study, in the MTC, I had read the book of Moses, chapter one. Elder Marquis and I decided that we would memorize verses twelve through twenty-two where it relates Moses' confrontation with Satan wherein Moses realizes and learns that he is a son of God, and with that personal divinity and identity, Satan can be overcome. But, at first, Moses thought that he could do it on his own. Twice he tried to cast out Satan with no avail. It wasn't until he called on the Lord and used the assistance of Jesus Christ that Satan finally departed. Elder Moleni and I decided that we would share these verses with Will and Evelyn.
When we shared Moses' account with them, the spirit was so strong! I don't think there was a dry eye in the room. I felt the spirit work through me, guiding my words and my thoughts, loosing my tongue. It felt powerful and yet very humbling at the same time. We focused on Will's divine identity and the power the he has over Satan when he calls on the Lord. This lesson took place about a week and a half before Will's scheduled baptism date. I consider this to be number one on my most spiritual lessons list!
We met with Will the following week, and he looked horrible! He told us that he hadn't slipped up but the withdraws were killing him, and he looked it! We shared with him scriptures and powerful testimony and at the end of the lesson, his fellowshiper, I don't remember his name, gave Will a blessing. A couple days later, Will was baptized. After his baptism, he just took off! To this day he is on fire with the gospel of Jesus Christ and he hasn't looked back since. One of the great blessings of my mission is that I was able to participate in the endowment and sealing of Will and Evelyn Thornton.
My next experience took place when I was in the Rocky Reach Ward in East Wenatchee with Elder Mudrow. I don't remember her name, but there was a sister who was getting ready to serve a mission. While she was at work she shared the gospel with and gave a Book of Mormon to a co-worker named Jared Heath. Jared, in my mind, is the definition of elect! She invited Jared to church and he came and stayed all three hours, he even brought his Book of Mormon! On the way home, Jared called and asked the member what he had to do to get baptized. She told him that he's gotta meet with us! The following Sunday, she and Jared came to our ward, stayed all three hours, and we taught the Restoration to him after the block. I felt impressed to share with him Alma chapter 7 and invite him to be baptized. I did so. He told us that he now, finally, understands what baptism is for. We extended a baptismal date and he accepted.
Jared had just gone through a really rough divorce where his wife was cheating on him for some time. They had a child together and he was only twenty-one years old. The gospel brought great comfort to him. During the time that he was being taught and baptized, he was giving rides to and from work to a friend, Jessica. During their car rides together, Jared shared with Jessica what he had been learning. His excitement was contagious. After he was baptized, he invited Jessica to come meet with us, and she did. Jessica did not as readily accept the gospel as Jared had. But, Jessica exercised greater faith than anyone else I had taught up to that point and even till now.
We invited and she accepted a baptismal date on the very first lesson. There were tears shed at every single lesson we had with her. She willingly acted on every commandment we invited her to keep. She was very nervous about the Sabbath Day and tithing. Jessica helped her parents with rent; she brought in the majority of the income. She was also saving up money to go to school soon. Her job had her working on Sundays. When we taught her about the Sabbath Day, she was very hesitant, but we promised her that if she exercised her faith, the Lord would provide a way. The next time we met with her, she said that her boss had no problem giving her Sundays off from then on, something that she said never happened! We promised her the same blessings when it came to paying tithing. With tears running down her cheeks, she said she would. Just a few days later, Jessica received a grant that she had little hope in getting that would pay the way for her next semester and her books! With Jessica I really felt like a true disciple of Jesus Christ. As we extended promised blessings, the Lord fulfilled them all! It was an awesome experience to be able to watch as Jared baptized Jessica!
The final experience I wish to share happened in my last area. When I got there, In the Clayton Ward in Deer Park Washington, with Elder Fordham, There was an investigator named Ed. Ed had been taught for a couple weeks and had been invited to be baptized a couple of times but never said yes. My first day in the area we taught Ed about the principle of setting goals with the Lord and he accepted a date for June 25! Ed continued to progress and gain a testimony of the gospel. He read the Book of Mormon all the way through before his baptism, and he fasted every single weekend leading up to it. The spirit was strong as I was able to witness Ed follow his Lord and Savior into the waters of baptism! A week and a half later he gave a talk at Emil’s baptism on the Holy Ghost and it was powerful! He already looked and sounded like a returned missionary! He is planning on serving a mission in a year and has already registered for a mission prep class at BYUI! My very last day of my mission I stood in a circle of Priesthood holders as we gave Ed the Aaronic Priesthood.
There are many more experiences that I could share that involve other people, but I realize this is getting lengthy and I need to get on to the next category: Spiritual experiences of my own. Outside of what I'm going to talk about in my other paper of what my mission means to me, there are three events that stick out in my mind where the Spirit spoke to me very powerfully and personally. The first one is the very first leadership training we had with Brother Bothell. The other two have to do with General Conference.
For the very first leadership training I was serving in East Wenatchee as a District Leader. I attended the west side sessions. Brother Bothell, from the missionary department in Salt Lake came up to help introduce us to the Fundamental Principles of Preach My Gospel. My knowledge, testimony, and understanding of the gospel, and how to teach it, grew exponentially. I really believe that these three days of training became a turning point for me and my mission.
There are two things that Brother Bothell taught that the Spirit bore powerful witness to me that they were true. The first one is the sacrament. We were being trained on revelation through church attendance when questions from the missionaries arose concerning the sacrament. Lunch time came and there were still questions amongst us. When we got back from lunch, President Palmer told us that because there were still unanswered questions concerning the meaning of the sacrament, he had asked Brother Bothell to expound on the matter.
Brother Bothell laid out so beautifully the significance of the baptismal covenant, as well as partaking of the sacrament, tying it directly into the plan of salvation. He focused on taking the name of Christ. He shared some great scriptures and explained them so plainly that none of us could misunderstand. I received a powerful witness that what he shared was true. It has stuck with me ever since.
The other two events took place during General Conference. The first was during the October 2010 Saturday Morning Session. In preparation I prayed that the Lord would confirm my testimony of President Monson, that he is the Lord's prophet on the Earth today. That answer came to me during the very first session. In fact, it came to me during President Monson's opening remarks! As soon as he called every worthy, able young man to serve a mission, the Spirit immediately testified to me that he is a prophet of God!
In preparation for the next General Conference of April 2011, I took a look at what my life was going to consist of for the next six months. That included a whole lot of things! Enduring to the end of my mission, starting a new life, school, marriage, work... not to mention all the questions for my investigators! I came prepared with a list of questions, having faith that conference would be a revelatory experience for me. And it was! Every single one of my questions were answered. Even the questions that arose from the answers given! It’s amazing how the Lord can teach an inquiring mind. I walked away from that conference completely filled, way more than I thought I would! To be exact, I came home with thirty-seven things to work on and apply to my life over the next six months!
To conclude, I want to go back to Brother Bothell at the leadership training. He related an experience that he had while training the east side of the mission just a couple of days before. He said that he was going over obedience and the Holy Ghost. He said that we as missionaries have to be so very careful to be exactly obedient so that the Holy Ghost will stay with us. As soon as we are disobedient, the Spirit withdraws. As he went back to the hotel that night, he said that he felt very uneasy about something he said during the training that day. He said he couldn’t quite pinpoint what it was. He woke up in the middle of the night, still feeling uneasy. He got down on his knees and prayed for help. The Lord came to him and said, "You go back to those missionaries and you tell them that for those two years, I never leave them".
I testify that that’s true. I’ve had my ups and I've had my downs, I’ve had smooth places and I’ve had rough. But, with all of it, the Lord was in it. It will never cease to amaze me how strong and how clear the Holy Ghost is and was with me as a disciple of Jesus Christ. I will be His disciple forever. This work is true, I know it is. This is the Lord’s work. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

What My Mission Has Meant to Me

What My Mission Has Meant to Me
Elder Burns
Washington Spokane July 09-11

It is difficult to accurately express what my mission has meant to me. In Mosiah 18:30 it says, “yea, the place of Mormon, the waters of Mormon, the forest of Mormon, how beautiful are they to the eyes of them who there came to the knowledge of their Redeemer; yea, how blessed are they, for they shall sing to His praise forever.” This is how I feel about my mission. How beautiful it is because this is where I came to an understanding of my Redeemer. My mission has been the place of my conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Yes, I had a testimony before my mission, an undeniable one, but there's a difference between testimony and conversion. Because of my mission I have become converted.
First and foremost, my testimony lies in the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Everything else that I discuss will be and is but an appendage to that Atonement. The reason why I wanted to serve a mission in the first place is because I had felt the power of it in my life as the burdens of my sins were lifted and filled with a desire to help others come to our Savior so that they too can partake of the infinite Atonement. Jesus Christ is our Savior.
“Joseph Smith, the prophet and seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it.” Why is that? Because without the restoration of the gospel, we could not fully apply the Atonement in our lives. All those people who are in Spirit Prison would not be able to partake of the Atonement. Realizing this has given me a great sense of urgency in spreading and preaching the gospel. Without the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, none of us would be able to partake of and apply to our lives His Atonement. Joseph Smith is the prophet of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
A tool that has helped me to become converted is Preach My Gospel. I love Preach My Gospel, I have learned and grown so much from reading its pages and then applying them into my life and into my missionary work. For Easter 2010, my parents sent me a brand new quad! I was very excited to have a new fresh set of scriptures that I could start a new system of marking and referencing. It took me a long time to organize it all together, but that new quad has become my Preach My Gospel scriptures. My marking system correlates directly with Preach My Gospel, particularly chapter three. Every other chapter in it ties back to a principle taught in chapter three, except Christlike Attributes, I wanted those to be marked separately.
What I did was go through every single page in Preach My Gospel and marked in my scriptures every single scripture reference in there. Whenever I came to a blue box, I numbered every reference, marked it in my scriptures, then wrote a summary of the passage in the notes section of that page. This took a long time to finish. But, through it I came much more familiar with the scriptures, and gained a much better at understanding of the doctrine and how to present it in a much clearer way. Going through Preach My Gospel in this way has helped me to become more converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Another thing that I have learned from Preach My Gospel and from applying this principle to my mission is goal setting. Not only goal setting but “mastering the techniques of living to reach my goals”. At the beginning of my mission I set two goals concerning baptisms: 1. Baptize in every area. 2. Baptize on average at least once a month. When I arrived in my last area, I only had six weeks left and the area had zero on dates. Because of this I was a little nervous at first that I wouldn't have the opportunity to baptize in that area. I had previously accomplished the goal of baptizing in every area. I was also lacking my monthly goal, in fact I still had three more to go with only six weeks left to do it. Instead of becoming discouraged, Elder Fordham and I set some lofty goals for the transfer. Our goal for baptisms was seven. After setting the goal, we gave it to the Lord so that He would “consecrate our efforts for our good”. We promised that we would give everything that we had if He would make up for the rest and provide for us the opportunity to reach our goal. We held true to that promise and the Lord did provide. We finished out that transfer and I left that last area having witnessed three of my fellow brothers enter into the waters of baptism with four more people on date. The lord provided for us the opportunity to accomplish our goal. I'm going to apply the principle of goal setting to my life for the rest of my life so that “I will then be able to make a great difference in the results I attain in this life”. The Lord helped me to reach the goals I set in my mission, I know He will help me reach the goals I will continue to set for the rest of my life.
Before my mission, I read the Book of Mormon just one time cover to cover, and that was right before I turned in my papers. I read it again while I was in the MTC. This time I feel like I gained a whole lot more from it, since I already knew the story line, having read it just a couple months before. Within my first four transfers, I read it again. I then read the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price. Then I started on the Bible. I got through Exodus and decided that I just wasn't feeling the Spirit as much as when I read the Book of Mormon and modern revelation. So I finished the Old Testament in about a week or two by only reading the chapter headings and when something caught my attention, I read that chapter. I decided that I needed to get back into the Book of Mormon. I got about half way through Alma when President Palmer invited us to mark the references to and the words of Jesus Christ, so I started over. It took me about three weeks to finish it, and I loved every minute of it! When I finished, I got a copy of a paperback New Testament and began marking the same things in there. I got about halfway done when, again, I wasn't feeling the Spirit as strongly in my life. So I decided to take my mini Book of Mormon and do the same marking activity in it. This time I took it slow and kept a study journal with it. I finished that with about two months to go on my mission so I decided to read it one last time, making six times total, five of which were during my mission.
I love the Book of Mormon! I have gained so many insights into my life from reading its pages. I remember when I was with Elder Tamblyn, he was getting ready to go home and so I began to think about whats its going to be like for me when I go home, having changed so much since I've been gone. I started to be fearful of falling into old habits. I prayed for guidance and direction. At the time I was wrapping up the book of Mosiah and through it I was able to receive answers to my prayers. It was amazing. I don't think I've ever had so much revelation come to me at once, pertaining to my own life, then I did at that time when the Lord answered my prayers. I love the Book of Mormon! I've decided that for every time I read it from now on, there will be a topic that I focus on and mark as I go through it, and I'll keep a separate study journal for each topic. I know the Book of Mormon was written for us, for our time. It is a guide book for each of us in our life and contains the answers and the questions and gives the insights that we each need to lead a successful life, allowing us to return to live with our Father in heaven.
In my Patriarchal Blessing, it says, “On many occasions you will be called to serve and teach. But, you will also be called to lead in Quorums and Councils”. Since that blessing the only leadership position I've had has been on my mission because I received the blessing just a few months before I left. During my mission, I had the opportunity to serve as a senior companion, a trainer, a district leader, and a zone leader. Each of these chances I had to serve allowed me to stretch and grow. I learned so much about my self during those times. I would say the single most important event that took place for me on my mission was becoming a zone leader. I served as a zone leader just one transfer short of a year. In fact, I became a zone leader exactly, to the day, one year of me entering into the mission field, September 21. I really believe that becoming a zone leader saved my life. I have learned so much about myself, the gospel, and how to lead. One of the reasons why being a zone leader is so great is because you become companions to a zone leader! I have had some amazing companions. Another great thing that comes from being a zone leader is zone leader council. Its an amazing feeling to be in the same room as and counseling with the cream of the crop missionaries in my mission. It can be a very humbling experience.
Elder Oaks has said that when a missionary is assigned to a mission, he's not being assigned to the mission as much as he's being assigned to a mission president. I feel very privileged to have served as a zone leader for so long under President Palmer's direction. I have learned so much from him; how to lead, how to serve, how to be a good missionary, how to love, and the list goes on and on! I pray that some day I will be half the man he is. Now that would be an accomplishment!
Another thing that comes to mind when I think of what my mission has meant to me is that I served stateside instead of foreign. I was thinking about all the privileges there are from serving in the states. Then I thought about if I had gotten my visa and gone foreign to Mongolia and over half the things were crossed out. I really feel like I have learned how the church is meant to run, how the leaders are supposed to lead, how a member is supposed to do missionary work, and how I can be a disciple of Jesus Christ forever.
I love my mission! The things I've learned and the experiences I've had has completely changed me! I'm not the same person I was when I left, and I will never be him again. What does my mission mean to me? Absolutely everything! In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

93rd and last week in Spokane

Its hard to believe that this is the last email! Its been a great adventure! This last week was really good. We went to the temple last week with a couple other Elders.. Elder Harmon and Elder Allred. Elder Allred is coming home with me so it was both of our last time to go to the Spokane temple as a missionary. It was a great experience. This last week has been filled with service and teaching! We helped someone move, painted a guys house, mowed a lawn, and shoveled ten yards of top soil! We had a good time! And with all these baptisms coming up we had to do a whole lot of teaching! Last week and this week are going to be completely full!! Emil is being baptized tonight. He asked me to baptize him. It has been so awesome to see his conversion, from when we met him outside the baptist church till now, there's a huge difference! Ed is doing awesome too! He registered for classes at BYUI this week and he signed up for mission prep! He is super excited! Emil is now talking about serving a mission as well. Richard is good to go for his baptism on Saturday! He is extremely excited! His girlfriend says that is all he talks about! It was really cool, last week we taught him the word of wisdom and he said that he absolutely will not be able to give it up in that amount of time. Recently he has given up a whole lot of things and coffee is something that he was still holding onto and needed more time to kick it. We asked if he would like a blessing and he said yes, so we gave him a blessing that the desire and the addiction will be taken from him. The next time we met with him he said that he has no more desire to drink coffee and that he hasn't taken a sip of it since the blessing! That was really cool! The Lord fulfills His promises! The countryman family, however are not yet ready to be baptized, so they are going to wait just a little bit longer. Good things are happening! Yesterday, we had Zone Leader Council.. my last one! it was really good! I love spending time with President Palmer. Elder Fordham and I were asked Monday night to give a training Tuesday on how to help struggling missionaries. It turned out really good though! President Palmer has asked each of us that are coming home to write to him my most spiritual experience and also what my mission has meant to me. So, I'm going to type it up and post it on here. I've learned so much on my mission and I am excited to start applying those things to my life now! I love you and thank you for your continued support!

Monday, June 27, 2011

92nd week in Spokane

We had another awesome week! Ed got baptized!!!! The service was really good! We also had a child of record baptism at the same time so that was pretty awesome! Also, the Crumps brought a friend to the service and now she wants to be taught! So we are looking forward to that! Emil is way solid now for his baptism on July 6th. We also had a way good lesson with the countryman family. They have been kinda shaky about their date of July 9th, so we went over not having prepared anything to teach and we just wanted to let the Spirit guide. We shared with them a few scriptures, asked a few questions, and the spirit was way strong and everyone was crying and they are solid about that date now! It was a way good experience. Richard is still good to go for July 9th.. he just needs to quit drinking coffee but he said last night that nothing is going to stand in the way of him getting baptized this time around! So that's going to be an awesome day! We taught a family named Bouvette, and she is Brother Countryman's sister. That lesson was way good, she has a daughter that's not baptized yet so we are going to shoot for her daughter getting baptized with the Countryman's on July 9th too! This week we also had zone conference. It was way good as always. We had it set up to where my companion and I were going to sing “come thou fount” as a duet but my voice got way horse and so we had to get another missionary to do it. He is super shy, but we convinced him to pray about it and he said that he got a pretty direct answer that he's supposed to sing. So right as soon as he decided to take my place, my throat got better! It was pretty funny.. obviously the Lord wanted him to sing instead of me.. it was way good for him, help him come out of his shell! Well, that's about it for me, we have a very busy and hectic next couple of weeks with all these people getting baptized! I sure do love this work!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

91st week in Spokane

It just doesn't slow down up here in deer park! This week we were teaching like crazy! It's the most lessons I've had in a week in a long time! It has been amazing! Everyone is still pretty solid! Our lesson with Richard on Wednesday went through and we were able to invite him at the very beginning of the lesson to be baptized on July 9th and he said yes! Ed is doing awesome! He is constantly quoting scripture to us from the Book of Mormon during our lessons. He has been a big help to Emil because he will teach him while we aren't there. He will be getting baptized this weekend! We've been teaching a guy named John, and this week we were able to focus on baptism. He's made a whole lot of changes in his life and he is finally ready! So we invited him to be baptized on July 16! On Tuesday we went on exchanges with the assistants and I was able to go down to Spokane to the 15th ward for a day! It was pretty fun trying to see all the people that I taught when I was there. The 15th and 22nd wards were my first area that I covered when I first got to the mission! So that was fun. With the countryman family we were able to teach them and we were able to find out one of the main concerns and so we taught to that and then they did a fast and so did we on Wednesday and they said that they received their answer! So we are way excited about them and are praying that they won't get cold feet for July 9th. Its amazing too because in the zone right now, there are eight people preparing to be baptized on July 9th! We were able to do some service this week.. my favorite! We split up about three cords of wood!! It was awesome!! Alright, so last night, we were at a members house eating dinner and he is from Cambodia so he made us some food from there and it was delicious, its called fa. But then after dinner, he had us try out some hot sauce. Brother Lim has done a whole lot of research to find the hottest sauce in the world and the one that he has is called the bomb! It was insanely hottt!! It was a solid fifteen minutes of straight pain! It was awesome!! They got it all on video, they said that its a tradition that whatever missionary eats at their home has to try it. It was intense!! Well, that was pretty much our week! we are continually being blessed! love ya!