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.

the days ahead


I do not know where to start.  I get set apart as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in two hours.  After years of desperately wanting to serve and 4 months of waiting.  2 hours is all I have.  Only two more hours of being "Alex."

To clear some things up, I will be heading to the Provo, UT Missionary Training Center for six weeks because I have not yet received my visa.  After those six weeks are up, if I still do not have my visa, I will be reassigned to a mission somewhere in the states and will continue my wait from the field.  It's in the Lord's hands and I will go where He wants me to go.

At this moment, I am terrified.  But miracles have happened to bring me to this point and I will not turn back.  I will miss you all dearly and would love to write to you.

My email and my address information is in the "Contact" page above^

My weekly emails will be posted here by a friend, so you can keep up with my adventures, wherever I may be!

I love you all so much and thank you for your support and love.  Look forward with faith!  See you in 18!

muito amor,