Thursday, December 19, 2013

I Love Las Vegas

So this is it!  My last full week in Las Vegas.  I feel like I have lived in this city foreverrr.  I will miss it. 
Things I have learned from the Lost Vegans:
Having rocks instead of a lawn is normal. 
 It's also normal to water your rock lawn.
Little dogs are the best guard dogs because they bark more. 
40 degrees is too cold to go outside.
Gluten allergies are trendy.
There are good people everywhere.  I had a lot of preconceived notions before coming here about what it would be like and how crazy sin city would be.  But the people here (with the exception of one naked old man who yelled at us once, bless his heart) are good, kind people.  They are people who do not judge others about their pasts, beliefs, or appearances.  They are people who will give you the clothes off their backs. 
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This guy is one of the best.  He is one of the first people I met and taught here.  His name is Tony and he is a hero to me!  (although he thinks he is too cool to smile).  He and his family have come a long way and I know that God smiles upon them!
His whole family got baptized with him on Saturday and it was the most amazing sight to see!
I look forward to what God has in store for me in Brazil!  But this city and these people will be a part of my life forever.
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Sister Burch

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


What a crazy week it has been!
oh, and happy Thanksgiving to you all! 
I know you are all anxious to hear what sort of celebrities I spent Turkey day with and I will keep you waiting no longer!
I spent Thanksgiving with the Sister Wives.  Yup.  It happened.  I will hopefully get some photo evidence to you all by next week.
Among other miracles, we also got to play football all day in our mission's Turkey Bowl!  I was on the starting line-up for probably the first and last time in my life. 
Oh, and one more small thing...
I leave for Brazil in TWO WEEKS.  December 16th.  I'm kind of wishing I'd studied Portuguese harder!  I wasn't supposed to find out that I had it until a couple days before, but I have friends in high places!  (aka AP's that can't keep a secret).  I can't even believe it!
I sent my visa application in very late.  And I sent it through the slowest and most busy consulate in the states.  It makes no sense that I have my visa right now.  But somehow, I do.  God answers prayers!  So thank you for praying for me!  I love you all!
Sister Burch

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sou Grata

"The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator."  Alma 30:44
We went hiking at the Red Rocks today.  It's so good to be outside.  I will be thinking of you all this Thanksgiving week!  I love you all muito and am overwhelmingly blessed to have so many supportive people in my life. 
Also, I may or may not be spending Thanksgiving with some kind of famous people.  More on that next week!
com amor,
Sister Burch

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Mighty Change of Plans

Tudo bem familia. 
Yesterday morning I got a call from President.  He told me he was transferring me and that I should pack my things and be ready to go in TWO HOURS.  There was an emergency and I was needed in another area.
I didn't quite know what to do or say.  I didn't get to say goodbye to anyone and I'm still kind of shell shocked that I'm not in Meadows anymore.  I just sent a few quick goodbye texts and Raphael texted me back and said, "Call me now so I can hear your voice one more time."
I lost it.
During this short time I've been here, my heart has grown so much.  I have so much love for the people here and saying goodbye on a whim was really hard for me. 
I'm now in an area called Elkhorn Springs.  ...I think :) 
My companheira is so sweet and we live in a little casita owned by a woman in the ward here.  When I met her, she said,
"Burch... do you know anyone in Minnesota?"
"Do you know a Penny Burch?"
...that's my grandma...
She just about started crying.  Turns out, she goes way back with my family and knows them well!  My mind was blown.  She was telling me the names of my little brothers and talking about how my dad gave some suits to their son and they were hanging in the closet upstairs!  WEIRD.
I don't know why I was moved here so suddenly.  But stuff like that is not a coincidence.
"But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things."  2 Nephi:24
I don't know everything, but God does.  I trust Him. 
Other than this current craziness, my last week in Meadows was wonderful.  We went to the Las Vegas temple and witnessed many miracles! 
One night we heard our friend was in the hospital so we got her flowers and went to visit her.  We ran around looking for her with no luck.  We later found out we weren't at the right hospital.  But when we went to the emergency room I saw out of the corner of my eye another woman who we had been teaching.  She was not doing well and she was alone.  We were initially so frustrated we couldn't find her and we were at the wrong place.  But if we hadn't gone there first, we never would have been able to help our other friend. 
Here are some more pictures of times past:
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Hiking mount charleston.  I'm ALWAYS surrounded by red heads...
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Sister Field is my soul sista forever.
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This is what happens when I'm trapped inside for five days.  Haterz gonna hate.

(There's supposed to be a picture here of the Las Vegas Temple but it didn't load in the email... stay tuned.)

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My beautiful companheiras will be my friends forever.  I love them.
Thank you for all of your prayers!  I need them!  I love you all SO MUCH. 
ate mais,
Sister Burch


This week.... my poor poor companheira got the flu.  We were stuck in the apartment for 2 days until she felt better. 
THEN  my OTHER companion got the flu, and we were quarantined for THREE MORE DAYS. 
Needless to say,  I've been going slightly stir crazy.  I am grateful, however, that by some miracle I didn't catch it.  Not sure how that happened!!! 
Without further ado.. adieu?  .....recaps from this transfer!!!!Inline image 3
Our fun day of feeding the scouts.  I mean being scouts.  :) 
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At the scouting event they had a three-story maze that I'm sure was built for children because I barely fit inside of it.  It took us 10 minutes to crawl through that bad boy!  And I MAY have had an anxiety attack (twas pitch black in there)
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These are my two boys Nathan and Anthony.  They are amazing and I love them dearly.  And sometimes they write me notes as follows:
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It just kills me, ya know?
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Classic awkward pic with my zone leaders (and a lovely tie trade in the background)
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This is Raphael!!!  Not that I have favorites or anything, but... he would be it.  On Thursday we went with him to see the lovely and talented Gladys Knight and her choir, Saints Unified Voices.  It was AMAZING!  It blew my mind.  I'm talking breaking it down to "I am a Child of God," type of amazing.  It was weird to see so many people dancing and clapping in the chapel though!  I could get used to that. :)
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Our view from the Smith Center at the Zion's Youth performance. 
That's all I have time for this week, but more to come next Monday!  I love you guys muito!  I appreciate the prayers and please pray I don't get sick!
com amor,
sister burch

Monday, November 11, 2013

God is Good

Oi familia!  This week marks the busiest one yet of my LIFE.  I have a toooon of pictures but I suck and forgot my camera so you will just have to wait one more week to see what sort of misadventures I've been on!
I'm getting a lot better at teaching (and by that I mean that God is seriously helping me)  And now 4 of the people we are teaching have baptismal dates!  God is so good! 
Raphael, who continues to hold the rank as my favorite human on the planet, turns out to have a crazy mysterious life that I am just finding out about.  Just so you get the idea, he met the terrorists of 9/11 at his blackjack table, and he used to be roommates with the actor that played Kunta Kinte in Roots.  So yeah, he's pretty cool.
On Halloween night we had to be in our apartments by 6pm because I guess there are crazies in Las Vegas?  Who knew?  But I admit I was rather excited because we were allowed to watch "17 Miracles" (through which I sobbed like a child)  and "the Other Side of Heaven."  Okay, it doesn't sound like much, but to us it was a party!  It was also sister Field's birthday!!!  (I understand that a 21st birthday in Las Vegas where we had a curfew of6pm sounds ironic).  Don't judge. 
On Friday we got up at the repulsive hour of 3:45am to make breakfast for probably 3,000 boy scouts.  My sleep deficit only keeps growing!  And on Sunday we got to go to the strip to usher for a show called Zion's Youth.  It was pretty cool to go to the city again! 
This morning we went hiking and tonight we have transfers.  My dear trainer, Sister Dewey, is leaving us!  :(  Me and Sister Field are staying here and we are getting a new companion as well.  I'm excited for all the next 6 weeks will hold!  Pray for me!  I love you all dearly and thank you for all your love and letters!
com amor,
Sister Burch

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Hope For A Better World

Oi familia!  This week was frightening but also full of miracles!
A couple days ago I visited a house of horror.  It was the home of a hoarder, who I love, but I sat down to talk and in the corner of the room I noticed it.  A web.  Nay, a kingdom of spider webs probably 3 feet by 5 feet full of probably a HUNDRED mondo spiders.  I got all anxious and couldn't focus and then I had to read a scripture and one of them CHARGED ME.  The most terrible experience of my life. 
I might be being a bit dramatic, for I made it out alive! 
And blessings sure do come after the trials of our faith, because after that dreadful experience, a lot of amazing things happened! 
I witnessed people overcoming extreme addictions and trials turn to God and join their families once more in the pews of a chapel. 
I've seen a man who decided to give up his cigarettes and follow God, have power and strength to stop smoking overnight and continue to follow Him.
I've seen people change through the power of the Atonement of Christ. 
Ether 12:4 says...
"Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God."
Life can be hard and the world can be dark.  But through God and His plan, there is always HOPE.  Hope for a life that is brighter and happier.  Faith that anchors our souls to Him and makes us better people.  I know that this is where true happiness and the courage to change is found!
Also, do you remember Raphael?  The man we found on the side of the road with a flat tire?  We've been teaching him quite a bit, and I thank God every day that I know him!
Also, Dad...  He told me that he wanted to give me away at my wedding, so you two might have to duke it out for that privilege >:)
I am so blessed to be here in Las Vegas!  Love you all muito!
Sister Burch

One Month in Las Vegas pt. 2

This week I taught a woman named Maria who, I cross my heart, comes up to my elbow.  TINY woman.  She has a masters in Theology, so needless to say, I was intimidated to teach her!  But God helped me, that's for sure!  She's getting baptized in 3 weeks!
There's a scripture this week that I read that I want to share with you all. 
Words of Mormon 1:7...
"And I do this for a wise purpose; for thus it whispereth me, according to the workings of the Spirit of the Lord which is in me.  And now, I do not know all things; but the Lord knoweth all things which are to come; wherefore, he worketh in me to do according to his will."

This scripture has meant a lot to me since I've been on my mission.  Half the time, I haven't known where I was going or what I am going to do, or when I will get to Sao Paulo.  Sometimes we are asked to do things that don't make sense to us.  Sometimes, bad things happen and we don't know why.  But God knows all things.  He knows exactly what He wants for us, where He wants us to be, and who He will place in our path.  I know I am here for a WISE PURPOSE and that is already being made manifest to me in many ways.  His plans are better than ours!  We just have to trust him and surrender our will over to Him.  It's the only thing we will ever be able to give back to God.
I love you all very much!  This place is like home.  And it doesn't hurt that I get to have In N Out and that I live ten feet from a tennis court.  God is good! 
ate mais!
Sister Burch

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I am a missionary!!!!! pt 2

This week was busy and wonderful!  And rather dramatic.  There was an emergency trip to the hospital (not for me, but for a woman we were teaching), a funeral, ...and I feel like I need to have a list of three, but those are the only two that I can think of.
So this woman we are teaching called us saying that she needed us to get her from the hospital.  We aren't allowed to give people rides and the hospital was out of our area... long story short, five hours later when we couldn't get anyone to go we got special permission to drive there and DRIVE AROUND LOOKING FOR HER because she didn't have a phone.  CRAZY DAY. 
Secondly, This woman we visit who is 91, called us and told us that her grandson died unexpectedly.  He didn't know many people so we conducted in the funeral.  She's amazing.
On a lighter note, I pulled and served over 100 pounds of pulled pork this week and will therefore never eat pulled pork again.  It's all about service!!!!
A highlight of my week, however, was that I got to get one man that we are teaching to hand me his cigarettes and wave them goodbye forever.  He put up a fight at first, but I came out victor!  It takes a lot of courage to change your life, but when it is for God it is so worth it! 
Anywho, I love you familia and pray for you daily!  I meet a lot of people out here who remind me of all of you and I can't help but think it's not a coincidence!  I hope you are well and keeping warm! 
Sister Burch

(NOTE: there was an image included with this post by Alex; however, it was formatted incorrectly and did not show up, so it will hopefully be included next time!)

I am a missionary!!!

Famila!  I promised you pictures and pictures you shall receive!  Behold!
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Me and my lovely companheiras.  Walking the streets of Vegas!
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Knocking doors!  Smiling is my favorite!
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One night we were fed four different desserts from four different families.  Sometimes it is painful to be so well loved.  And sometimes Sister Field literally cries when she just can't eat any more pie.  First world problems.
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I made this cupcake in honor of my new friend, the cockroach.  Naturally.  Pretty lifelike, eh?
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They are friendly creatures, really.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Brighter Light

Hey people! 
I know I promised pictures this week... but I lied.  I can't get my card reader to work!  NEXT WEEK!  Te prometo. 
thanks everyone for all the emails and letters and support!  VOCES SAO OTIMOS!  This week I have less fleas than last, but I realize how spoiled I've been to live in a place where it's literally too cold for most insects to survive.  All I have to say is one word:  cockroaches.
Other than those hideous creatures, This week was great!  General Conference weekend proves to be the best time of year and it is like Disneyworld to a missionary.  If you haven't watched it, WATCH IT! 
Remember Rafael?  The man who had a flat tire?  Well we taught him this week and it was amazing.  God is good!  We are also teaching a mother and her two sons.  They are really ill all the time, but we go to them and those two boys have so much faith, it makes me cry like a fool.  In a few weeks they'll be baptized and I can't wait to see their smiling faces on that day!
I love being a missionary.  I love having the excuse to talk to random people and catch them off gaurd.  I love being able to unapolagetically say what I believe! 
There is a lyric to a certain hymn that has meant a lot to me lately. 
"Her light shall then attract the gaze of all the world in latter days."
There are a lot of people in Las Vegas who have forgotten God.  A lot of people who are convinced they can do it all alone and that religion and Christ are things of the past. 
But I see every once in a while the people who haven't.  The members of the church here who have to endure a lot and stand out so much in this city.  And the light that is in them shines much brighter than the lights on the strip. 
We often get strange looks from people as we walk the streets and it is my wish to attract the gaze of those who have forgotten why they are here and the God that loves them. 
God loves you!  And I love you MUITO! 
Sister Burch

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Week One Among The Lost Vegans

Get it?  The Lost Vegans is just what I call the lovely people of Las Vegas. 
Well... except for one rather unfortunate happenstance.
I have fleas.
No really, I do.
Everyone says our area is the most ghetto, but I guess I never thought it was that bad (maybe because I was raised in St. Cloud?)  So I didn't believe them.  But then we went to this one house and after that I was... really itchy.  And later that night during a lesson I saw a tiny white insect scurry across my lap.  I tried to play it cool because the conversation was serious, but failed.  I freaked out.  
So that's fun! 
And speaking of creeping things, my companions found two scorpions in our apartment.  TWO OF THEM.  Pray for me.  We also witnessed a domestic dispute right outside our apartment, so there is never a dull moment around here :)
Something I love about Las Vegas is how diverse it is.  I have met people from Mexico, Barbados, Africa, and Ecuador.  I have met dog trainers, and miners, and a ska band.  It is the coolest thing to get to talk to people who are complete strangers and get to hear their stories.  I've gotten to use my Spanish a lot as well! 
On Sunday, I was feeling a little discouraged and prayed to find someone who needed us and needed our help.  We were driving to church when we saw a car on the side of the road.  Sister D. pulled a swift U-turn and we pulled up next to the car.  We got out to see if the man who had a flat tire needed help.  He looked so discouraged, but when he looked up at us he just smiled and said that he just knew we were from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  He said he used to go to school in Utah and he knew our hearts were good.  And it turns out, another time he was having car troubles he was stuck on the side of a freeway.  A man picked him up that turned out to be a Mormon bishop.  No kidding.  His name is Rafael and he is from an African country that I don't quite remember. 
There are no coincidences.  And when we pray with faith, miracles happen.  God is in every detail and the people He puts in our paths, He puts there for a reason. 
I love you all so much!  Thanks for being here for me!  Next week I promise to send pictures as well :) 
once again my address is
4455 Allen Lane #140
North Las Vegas, NV 89031
Sister Burch

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Oi familia! 
I got off the pane and beheld numerous gambling machines right there in the airport.  (...okay I don't remember what they're called)  (slots?)  And I was overwhelmed by the big screens and scantily clad women on billboards!
Goodbyeeee Provo MTC.
Ha!  We were welcomed by President Ahlander and his wife and were fed a home cooked meal.  Something I forgot about whilst in the MTC. 
I was assigned my companions sort of like they do in Hunger Games.  Total reaping.  The whole ward came and they gathered as President Ahlander read "and your new companion is....... Sister Burch!"  I had to walk through the doors and down this line between the crowd and met my companions Sister Dewey and Sister Field.  I'm in a trio!  They are really awesome and great missionaries! 
My area is called Meadows.  We went right to work and had a dinner appointment in which the lady was eye level to me while I was sitting down.  I have never met a smaller woman!  After dinner we stopped by some people's apartments in a really sketchy part of Vegas.  In the dark.  We walked around this huge complex hearing police sirens in the background everywhere, but  I didn't feel the least bit scared.  I am protected!  (not trying to freak you out mom haha I am careful!)  These people called us over to them and wanted to know what 3 white girls were doing walking around at night (their words, not mine! haha!)  We told them and one woman had just moved here from St. Paul!  I was so pumped and we bonded.  She asked us to take her and her kids to church on Sunday.  Amazing! 
It's so good to be here and officially be a missionary in the real world!  But it's sort of hard for me to teach and pray in English anymore.  Who knew that would be something I would have to get used to? 
I love you all and will write more soon!  My new pdays are Monday, so that is when I will normally get to email. 
And my new address is:
4455 Allen Lane #140
North Las Vegas, NV 89031
Use it! :)
com amor,
Sister Burch

one step enough for me pt. 2

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Me and sister Tait are tight, like unto a dish.  She will do great things in Oklahoma!  And one day we will see each other again in BRAZIL!

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Our last PDAY!  Those lovelies are serving in Scottsdale Arizona until they get their visas!

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selfie sunday... sorry!  I'm  just happy to be here!

I love you all so much and I am so thankful for all the letters/emails/and support I have received.  It means the world to me, you will never know!  I will get my new address up on here stat!

Eu sei que Deus nos ama muito.  Eu sei que temos propósito aqui na terra e que a obra e gloria de Deus e nosso felizidade!  Eu sei que Jesus Cristo vive e que ele murreó por nos.  Esta igreja e a igreja dele.  


Sister Burch

one step enough for me

This will be the last time I write from the MTC, looking at the familiar mountains of Provo.

Next time I will be in the hot dessert of Las Vegas, Nevada!

To clear up confusion, I don't have my visa yet to go to Brazil, so until I do I will serve in Las Vegas.

And I am so pumped to get out.  Not that I don't love the MTC, it's just that if I have to eat another gravy soaked meal I just might cry!  

I don't have much time to write so here are some pictures of my MTC adventures:

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Classic matrix.

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my comp.  chipped her tooth so we got to escape and ride around provo!

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caught in many rainstorms.  Utah be weird.

I got my reassignment!

Oi familia!  I know what you must be thinking, and no, it is not Friday.  But don't fret, I'm not breaking any rules, for I HAVE NEWS!

I have received my temporary reassignment!





The west mission specifically.  I know next to nothing about it!  Except that I will leave the MTC at 4:30 am on Monday.


That was unexpected.  Ah!  I am so ridiculously excited.  

I will probably get time to call you when I am in the Salt Lake airport early Monday morning, before  8:20 am.  So plan for that and keep your phones nearby!  (that's a hint to you, mom).  

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This is my district and myself with our reassignments.  Elder Ashford on the left got his visa!

Someday, that will be me.  But for now, I sure am happy to be serving God in Las Vegas.

Há pessoas do Brasil na Navada, não?  

Eu vou enviar o outro email amanha.  E vou falar com voces na segunda!

Ate mais.

Sister Burch

Sunday, September 15, 2013


...and I hit the field!  The mission field of who knows where!  That's right, in a week I will either have my visa or a reassignment!!!  THE MYSTERY NEVER ENDS!  So make your guesses now!

...and pray it is a warm state as I packed little to no warm clothing....  Brazil....

This week was more of the same!  Studying, teaching, speaking Portuguese, happy times!  We're down to crunch time now though so I'm working harder than ever.  

Some fun stuff this week is that I got to be a host for new missionaries that came in on Wednesday.  I hosted a girl who was from Fiji and is serving in Colorado, how nuts!  It was awesome to see all their shiny new faces, completely overwhelmed, and not entirely sure what they signed up for.  (one girl was completely bawling and I did not know how to handle it...)  It's weird to think that was me not that long ago.  It seems like months ago!  

Something we have started doing here is TRC.  It's where real people come in who speak Portuguese and we teach them.  We taught a girl from Sao Paulo and it was the coolest.  We also taught a bunch of missionaries who served in Brazil and Portugal.  It gets me so excited.  

One of the highlights of my weeks are, however, getting to sing in the MTC choir.  It is so powerful.  This week we sang one of my favorite hymns at the devotional.  We sang a song called "Where Can I Turn For Peace"  

Where can I turn for peace?
Where is my solace
When other sources cease to make me whole?
When with a wounded heart, anger, or malice,
I draw myself apart,
Searching my soul?

Where, when my aching grows,
Where, when I languish,
Where, in my need to know, where can I run?
Where is the quiet hand to calm my anguish?
Who, who can understand?
He, only One.

He answers privately,
Reaches my reaching
In my Gethsemane, Savior and Friend.
Gentle the peace he finds for my beseeching.
Constant he is and kind,
Love without end.

I think something everyone seeks in this life is peace.  So many people don't know where to find it.  They look their whole lives in all the wrong places.  They turn to money, things, alcohol.  And they are always left feeling just as empty as when they started.  

Because the only thing that can truly give us peace and lasting happiness is Jesus Christ and His atonement.  

The song makes me think of when Jesus was walking out on the water.  His apostles were pretty freaked out and thought He was a ghost.  When they did see that it was Him, I probably would have been freaked out too, but Peter, however, asks Jesus to bid him come out on the water too.  He walked out on the water to Jesus.  And he got pretty far until he saw the giant waves around Him.

"When He saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.  And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand and caught him..." Matt 14:30-31

Life is not easy, and sometimes our faith falters.  But Jesus Christ, as the song says, "reaches our reaching."  He will always catch us.  Beautiful.  

Anywho!  I love you family and miss you dearly!  


jajaja brincadora.  

com amor,
Sister Burch

Sunday, September 8, 2013


Week 3 in the MTC

Oi tudo bem familia!  I am half way done with my stay in the MTC!  Can you believe it?  This week flewwww by.  The pictures attached are of my district and I at the temple for our Sunday temple walk!  They are a hoot.  Me and Sister Tait also took a ride on the handlebars of a certain infamous MTC statue... we didn't read the "do not climb" sign until it was too late? haha
I'm still working hard studying Portuguese all day.  We also got a new teacher!!!  His name is irmao Pinho and he is Brazilian!  100%!  He's from Sao Paulo and I'm not sure I've ever met a Brazilian I didn't like!  His enthusiasm is contagious and he tells us hilarious stories about the country.  SOMEONE GET THIS GIRL A VISA! :)  He speaks rather fast, however, but I think it will really help my accent and ability to teach.  

All of the Portuguese classes got all switched around so we moved buildings and now we have to walk up 5 flights of stairs to get to class. 

The elevators are for "sick and afflicted."  I diiiid have a cold this week... 

The view though is incredible and the mountains are beautiful.  

My companion and I sometimes get a little stir crazy after 6 hours of class... so we have adopted a certain grassy knoll on campus that we study atop.  The simple things.  Meeting people at the MTC is incredible.  Everyone has a story.  We had some elders bear their testimonies in Creole to us which was sweet.  And I met a girl from Denmark (Dad!) who is going to serve in Florida!  

No word on a visa, though a few people in my zone have gotten theirs.  Pray for me!  

My motto this week has been this lovely scripture:

"Wherefore, be not weary in well doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work.  And out of small things proceedeth that which is great."

Every small worthwhile thing we do now, however tiring or difficult, will lay the foundation of a great work.  I have a testimony of this.  Our choices matter.  How we use our agency matters.  Nossas escholas sao importantes.  The SMALL decisions that we make everyday turn out to be perhaps the most influential for our future.  

I love you all and pray for you pelo nome, cada dia.  

com amor,

Sister Burch

Friday, August 30, 2013

agora e a hora

TUDO BEM!  This week FLEW BY.  The time here is so weird.

I am doing well!  I'm surviving!  Who knew I was capable of studying for 9 hours a day?  I certainly have never worked this hard in school... haha!  

I have learned so much this week it is unreal.  I can teach lessons in Portuguese with no notes.  I can have natural conversations.  I can understand native speakers.  Like, WHAT!  The Lord has blessed me with so much capacity to learn.  

Before I left for the mission, I was told that when I was in the MTC I would have to surrender my identity as Alex to be Sister Burch.  This week I've realized how true this was.  I feel like I've sort of been holding on to a little bit it and not completely letting go.  And what I learned is that what you are willing to give up here, and how much of yourself you are willing to let go of to give to God, is exactly how much you will get back.  If I hold nothing back and work my hardest every single day, then every day God will bless me that much.  Does that even make sense?  Basically, this work isn't about me.  I'm trying to forget myself.

On my name tag, right under my name, it says "JESUS CRISTO."  And that is who I am representing.  It is an honor and an overwhelming responsibility, but I am so happy and blessed to be serving God.  I am so impatient and God is perfectly patient.  I am imperfect, but God still uses me as an instrument in His hands.  Imagine working with imperfect tools.  I would be so frustrated, yet regardless he uses me as a tool in His kingdom.  

This week was nuts!  Me and Sister Tait were often informed that we would be teaching and only have minutes to prepare.  We have 2 new investigators, Diane, and Forrest.  It is hard.  Yesterday we taught Forrest and it was rough.  Like, laughably so.  We asked him to pray and he was just like, Nao.  Nao Quero.  Uhhhhh.... Okay, Forrest, Eu Posso.  

Todo, we're not in Kansas anymore.  Our lessons are getting harder, which is making me realize exactly how important it is to teach by the spirit.  Without it, we are ineffective, and our Portuguese really struggles.  

Next time, Forrest, you're praying.  I'll see to it >:)

NEWS!  My companion and I have been assigned to be training leaders for our zone.  WHAT.  I just got here?  We are responsible for teaching new missionaries and giving tours, teaching them the rules, and visiting all of the sisters every night.  Which means I have even less time than I already had, but serving the sisters is already bringing me so much happiness.  I love this assignment and hope we never get released.  

So I do this Minnesota accent every once and a while and my district gets such a kick out of it.  You betcha.  

Last Tuesday we went to a devotional at the Marriott center and we got to hear Elder Neil L. Anderson speak!  It was the most powerful experience.  It was broadcast to every MTC in the world, which is the largest audience of missionaries in history!  We sang in the choir and apparently I was shown on the big screen a lot!  Sou famosa!  Elder Anderson's talk was entitled "First Love, then Sacrifice."  

We sacrifice for the things we love, and love the things we sacrifice for.  Think carefully about what you want to love.  Amazing.  

The biggest sacrifice ever made in the world was the atonement of Jesus Christ.  He sure loves us a lot.  

After the devotional, we were informed that there was lightning outside and had to wait.  Elder Anderson went around shaking missionary's hands!  I didn't get to shake his hand, but I could feel his love.  After a while they let us leave and so me and sister Tait BOOKED IT back to the MTC in  the pouring rain, running through puddles. 

Our soaking wet district sat in the classroom discussing what we learned and bearing our testimonies.  It was incredible.  

I pray for you all day every day.  Sending meu amor!  

com amor,

sister Burch

Friday, August 23, 2013

Olhos Fitos

Bom Dia, minha familia!  Tudo Bem!  I have not forsaken you, today really is my first P-day (preparation day)  We didn't get one the first week, but so you know, Friday is the day!

I am in the MTC!  Weird, right?  It all happened so fast.  And I mean it, they had me and my companion Sister Tait give a full blown lesson in Portuguese on our third day here.  I walked into class on Wednesday and my teacher irma Hart started talking to me in Portuguese and she was merciless.  She almost never speaks English to us.  It is incredible how quickly I have been able to pick up the language, although my Spanish is fighting for it's life.  (During our third lesson with our "investigator," Landon, I was explaining something and noticed that Sister Tait looked super confused.  And I realized that I had been speaking Spanish the whole time.  Whoops)  I'm slowly opening my heart to this weird hybrid language.  Portuguese is madness and the pronunciation is insane to me!  My favorite word is diligentemente.  If you think you know how it's pronounced, you don't.  "JILIJENCHEEMENCHEE"  Haha!  

My companion is Sister Tait from Iowa (midwest!)  She went to BYU as well and is 19.  She played college volleyball so our gym time is the best.  Volleyball errday!  She is fearless and I have already learned so much from her.  Everyone in my district is going to Sao Paulo, and we are all waiting on our visas.  All the guys... I mean elders... Are fresh out of high school.  Sometimes I feel like they are such children and I am the big sis.  But other times I am humbled at how much they know and how much I learn from them.  It's only been one week and we are already tight, like unto a dish.  (get it?)

I have already seen so many miracles at the MTC.  I have never seen so much kindness, or felt more at peace with what I am doing.  There have been hard days, but It is a miracle how quickly I have been able to cast aside discouraging thoughts.  It's been a miracle how fast I have learned to love the people I am with.  

For the record, I am the oldest one in my district and it only took ONE DAY for someone to ask me why I wasn't married yet.  HA.  #spinster4lyfe  #at20

Something I learned very quickly here is that people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.  My first priority is to love the people I teach and build a relationship of trust.  Our second lesson with Landon we ditched any sort of a script and our Portuguese was b-a-d.  But we were able to make a connection with him and that is more powerful than anything we could have eloquently said.  Oh!  And Landon wants to get baptized!  Ah!  Who would have thought after a week I could have learned so much?  My brain hurts.

Every night I go to bed at 10:30 pm exhausted, and at 6:30 am I wake up somehow even more tired.  This is hard work and I don't know why I didn't believe the people who told me it would be.  But this work is important.  And I now think I know why so many boys in Utah are balding. lawl.

Mom!  Do you know who Vai Sikahema is?  No?  Well, let me tell you.  He played for BYU football during the miracle bowl and ran the distance that made the miraculous win possible!  (can you tell from my obscure language that I understand nothing about football?)  Well we got to hear him speak in a devotional and it was pretty cool.  He told us about his mission in South Dakota.  

The highlight of my week happened yesterday.  We ran into a woman who is from Sao Paulo!  She started talking to us top speed and I UNDERSTOOD EVERYTHING.  A real Brazilian!  Wow.  I am so blessed.  She told us all about Sao Paulo.  About how it's super dangerous and that we should never look like we are rich.  She told us that soccer is in their blood and that it is bigger than even religion.  That people die over it.  Wow.  

Please pray that Brazil beats the US.  Okay?

But what I loved most was what she said of the people.  They are friendly and inviting.  They will receive you with open arms into their homes and offer the very food off their plate.  People in Brazil take care of each other.  God knows my heart, because if any of the Brazilians are anything like this woman, then I love them already.

I love you all and miss you muito.  I pray for you all day every day

My time on email is short and I must go to the temple now!  I can't wait!  

Muito amor, 

Sister Burch

Monday, August 12, 2013


Good Morning brothers and sisters!  Today is a happy day because I’m not sure I’ve ever gotten to speak in front of so many people I love, so many people who have played pivotal roles in shaping who I am.  It such a blessing and a miracle to me.

Yesterday my dad told me that if I referenced skittles and unicorns in my talk that he would give me 50 bucks.  I couldn’t find a way to organically fit it in, so I’m hoping this counts.  I accept cash.
These past few days I have been very overwhelmed—with running errands and seeing people and getting everything together before I leave.  I have felt unprepared, afraid, and anxious, but more than anything, I have been overwhelmed with a feeling of love.  Love from and for all the people here supporting me and love from my Father in heaven.  And ultimately, that is why I am here, and why I am leaving my home for 18 months.
          I have had the desire to serve a mission since I was a child.  I was probably nine years old sitting in a pew in this very chapel singing along to the hymn “I stand all amazed.”  I remember how the words of the song pierced my heart.

  I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me,
Confused at the grace that so fully He proffers me; I tremble to know that for me He was crucified, That for me, a sinner, He suffered, He bled and died.

I marvel that He would descend from His throne divine
To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine;
That He should extend His great love unto such as I,
Sufficient to own, to redeem, and to justify.

I think of His hands, pierced and bleeding to pay the debt
Such mercy, such love and devotion can I forget?
No, no! I will praise and adore at the mercy seat,
Until at the glorified throne I kneel at his feet.
O it is wonderful that He should care for me
 Enough to die for me!
  O it is wonderful, wonderful to me!

I think I started to understand at that moment exactly how much I was loved by my God and Jesus Christ. 

As I grew up I continued to learn about the life of the Savior.  I learned that He performed many incredible miracles.  I learned that he was kind, forgiving, and non-judgmental.  I learned that he endured pain and loneliness and ridicule beyond comprehension.  I came to understand that any hardship or tragedy that I would ever go through, Christ endured it first.  And He endured it for us.  He gave us everything so that we could find happiness and peace with our Father in heaven someday through Him.

This is the strongest kind of love there is and it is called charity, which is the pure love of Christ. 

 46 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—
 47 But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.

 The knowledge that we are loved by Jesus Christ is powerful.  It has pulled me through many hard times, and is why I want to serve a mission.  We are told: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” I know that the Lord loves me.  I am serving a mission to show that I love Him back.  If I can tell just one person who has forgotten their worth that God loves them infinitely and completely, then I will consider my 18 months in Brazil a success. 

Let’s cross our fingers that I surpass that goal by at least a little bit. 

Any time I have had a discouraging thought about not being able to learn the language, or be an effective teacher, and anytime you feel you are inadequate to do good, It is helpful to think about Doctrine and Covenants Section 4:5

“And faith, hope, charity, and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work.”

If I have a love for the people I am serving, I will be qualified for the work. 
The same goes for all of us, whether we are missionaries or not, if we love the people we are trying to help and serve, we will be capable of doing so. 

One of the biggest examples of this to me is a man from the Book of Mormon named Ammon.  Ammon is perhaps one of the most incredible missionaries in all scripture.  He traveled alone to a land where his people were hated.  He was captured and bound immediately and brought to the king whose name was Lamoni.  When King Lamoni asked why he had come into his territory, Ammon responded “I desire to dwell among this people for a time; yea, and perhaps until the day I die” (Ama 17:24).  He also promptly told the king, ”I will be thy servant” (Alma 17:25).  King Lamoni was impressed at his sincerity and Ammon proved to be a loyal servant and risked his life for the king.  He earned his trust and taught him of the redemption that comes through Christ. 

Although there are many fearsome parts to this story, my favorite part is when they run into Lamoni’s father, who is king over all the land, and ask him to release Ammon’s brethren from his prison.  All at once, Lamoni’s father is angered and tries to slay his own son.  But Ammon protects him.
“And when he saw that Ammon had no desire to destroy him, and when he also saw the great love he had for his son Lamoni, he was astonished exceedingly…” (Alma 20:26).
Ammon served these people well because he loved them and became one of them.  His love for Lamoni changed the heart of a wicked king forever.

When we show others that we genuinely love them and reflect the perfect love of Christ, they will open their hearts as well. 

It is clear that this is what Christ asks of us

The last thing the Savior did in His life with the apostles was not teach them about resurrection, which they did not understand completely, or the atonement, or even church organization.  What he did was poignant… He girded Himself and washed their feet.  A perfect man and the son of God, served his apostles.  And the last thing He said was: A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another as I have loved you. 
Elder Deiter F Uchdorf shares a story about this as well.  A story is told that during the bombing of a city in World War II, a large statue of Jesus Christ was severely damaged. When the townspeople found the statue among the rubble, they mourned because it had been a beloved symbol of their faith and of God’s presence in their lives.

Experts were able to repair most of the statue, but its hands had been damaged so severely that they could not be restored. Some suggested that they hire a sculptor to make new hands, but others wanted to leave it as it was—a permanent reminder of the tragedy of war. Ultimately, the statue remained without hands. However, the people of the city added on the base of the statue of Jesus Christ a sign with these words: “You are my hands.”

Jesus Christ no longer literally walks this earth, He doesn’t heal people on the streets or raise our loved ones from the dead.  But that does not mean that we are left alone and that we cannot be healed.  We are the Savior’s hands.  We are his heart.

 Christ said in John 15:13… "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). This doesn't mean we have to die to show our love for our friends. We lay down our lives every time we put someone else's needs before our own. 

Christ did not just speak about love; He showed it each day of His life. He did not remove Himself from the crowd. Being amidst the people, Jesus reached out to the one. He rescued the lost. He didn’t just teach a class about reaching out in love and then delegate the actual work to others. He not only taught but also showed us how to “succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees.” 12

Christ knows how to minister to others perfectly. When the Savior stretches out His hands, those He touches are uplifted and become greater, stronger, and better people as a result.
If we are His hands, should we not do the same?

Love is what inspired our Heavenly Father to create our spirits; it is what led our Savior to the Garden of Gethsemane to make Himself a ransom for our sins. Love is the grand motive of the plan of salvation; it is the 
source of happiness, the ever-renewing spring of healing, the precious fountain of hope.
In a world where discouragement and hate can be seen on the streets, the airwaves, and all over the internet, this kind of fountain of hope can surely be put to good use.

Last semester at BYU I was taking a New Testament class and my professor told us a story that changed my heart.

It was about his experience serving in South America.  He had taught people in slums and the area was very poor.  There was one woman who was a widow and lived on the cheapest land you could buy—she lived in a shack on a dried up river bed, a river bed that annually flowed with water, so only the poorest of the poor resorted to living there.  He visited her home to teach with her and noticed how poorly she had it off.  Her bed was a simple mat on the dirt ground below.  He observed that her kitchen table was made of two pales and some scrap pieces of wood overtop.  He left her home and met with the bishop, telling him that something needed to be done to help this poor widow.  They decided the first thing they would do was try to get her some real furniture.  The next Sunday, the bishop announced to the congregation that someone was in need of a table, and that if anyone had one to spare, they should bring it by his office.  The bishop waited and the clocked ticked on by and nobody came with an offering.  Until much later that same widow unexpectedly walked in.  She told the bishop how sad she felt that someone didn’t have a table.  She said she didn’t have much, but she did have some stands, and two simple pieces of wood she would give him.  

The bishop, with tears in his eyes, told her that the table was meant for her.
When we are serving those around us, we are serving our God.  This story humbled me so much.  A mission had been my desire for a long time, but when the time came for me to act and to make a decision of whether I would serve or not, I can’t say I was like the widow from this story who answered the call for help immediately.  I let doubt and fear enter my mind for a long time.  I was not sure how I would ever have the means or support to serve.  I often felt I would be unqualified for the work.  I am no gospel scholar and I’m not convinced I ever really learned my scripture masteries.  But that poor widow living on a dried river bed didn’t have much either, but she offered what she did.  And I knew that I needed to as well.  I knew that I was loved by Heavenly Father and that because of this fact, I would be taken care of.

And I have been.

John 4:18 says, There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

Whatever fears we may face in this life will disappear when we truly understand how much God loves us. 
We can all be instruments in the hands of the Lord for good.  We can lift each other up and we must learn to reflect Christ’s love to everyone around us.  This was Christ’s final commandment to us.  To Love each other as He did.

Spencer W. Kimball, a former prophet, explained: "God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs" 

Loving someone else and treating them as you would like to be treated seems like a simple thing, but I believe we would all be happier if we tried this a little more.  If we opened our hearts a little bit more to those around us.  If we listen sincerely about someone’s day, and show them that we are interested in how they are feeling and who they are, miracles could happen.  WE will be happier as a result, because we will be thinking less of ourselves and more of others. 

We are all needy people. We all have failures and we all fall short.  God sees our hearts perfectly and all our flaws and yet, He loves us anyway.  He provided us a way to become clean again through the loving atonement of Jesus Christ.

There is a great quotation in the book entitled A Heart Like His.  It says, “The love of God truly is the most joyous and delicious thing we can experience on this earth. It is so good that when we are filled with it, we are consumed with a desire that others should feel too.”

And this is what I want!  I want others to feel the happiness and love that I have felt. 
  My Heavenly father’s love is what made me want to go on a mission.  I have been blessed with so much.  A family, amazing friends, a place to call home, and most importantly, a knowledge of his everlasting love.  I owe everything to my Savior Jesus Christ.  And that is why I am willing to leave behind my home, my loved ones, and my schooling.  Because I know without a doubt in my mind that it will still never measure up to the sacrifice he paid for me.  Serving a mission in Brazil is how I feel it is best for me to show my love.  But we can all act as the Saviors hands and lift one another up.  If we can open our hearts a bit more and let His love change them, I know we will have lasting happiness.

I know that God lives and I know that He loves you.  I know this church is true and that Jesus walked this earth and died for us.  I can feel His love all around me and I know that because of this, we are never alone.