Elder Burdge: Why I am a Missionary 1/27/14

Share Button

Screen Shot 2014-02-02 at 10.38.15 PMMy mom, my aunt Lee, and my uncle Jonathan are seminary teachers. For those who don’t know, teenage members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints attend a seminary class everyday. Screen Shot 2014-02-02 at 10.23.30 PMIn this class they read, learn from, and discuss holy scripture from the Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants. Seminary provides an environment for teenagers to grow and increase their testimonies, or basic beliefs, and firmly root those beliefs in the doctrine of Jesus Christ contained within the sacred writing of the prophets. Many of these classes take place early in the mornings requiring many sacrifices from both the teachers and students. I know that seminary teachers offer freely and voluntarily significant portions of their time to teach and prepare lessons from these religious writings. I am grateful for the time, effort, preparation and love they all put into teaching.

This year, seminary students are studying from the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. Soon they will be learning about Ammon, a great missionary of faith, service, and love whom I am named after. My mom asked me to write to her class what it means to me to be a missionary but I feel prompted to share with you all why I am giving two years of my life to serve as a missionary.

Alma, Ammon and the other sons of Mosiah being called to repentance by an angel

Serving a mission allows me to show my gratitude towards God. He has given me everything in my life. I was born into a family. I was taught the Gospel. I learned to work. I learned to study. I was encouraged to question and seek for truth. I was taught to love and serve those around me. Most importantly, I learned the reality, beauty, and importance of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Similar to Ammon and the Sons of Mosiah I was, for years, rebelling against what I knew was right and true. Through my mistakes and actions I put myself in an awful and empty place. I was lost and afraid. But because of the love my Father in Heaven and my Savior, Jesus Christ, I was able, as we all are, to repent and bring myself closer to God. When speaking of such a past, Ammon explains in Alma 26:20:

“…Behold, he did not exercise his justice upon us, but in his great mercy hath brought us over that everlasting gulf of death and misery, even to the salvation of our souls.”

I was spiritually dead and decaying but because of a friend who reached out to guide and help me I was able to take part in the Atonement of Jesus Christ and be rescued from that “everlasting gulf.”

When I finally took part in that Atonement and repentance, I was able to exclaim as did Alma the Younger:

…I could remember my pains no more; yea I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more. And oh, what joy, and marvelous light did I behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain! Yea, I say unto you that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy. (Alma 36:19-21).

The joy and strength I now feel after having partaken in that redeeming sacrifice is indescribable. I know that it is available to all, and that is why I am spending these two years preaching the gospel. There are people all around us who are “encircled about with everlasting darkness and destruction” and as missionaries we help bring them to the everlasting light and salvation of the Atonement that they may be “encircled about with the matchless bounty of [God’s] love.” And I rejoice because I am an “instrument in his hands of doing this great and marvelous work” (Alma 26:15).

I have seen the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ firsthand. It has changed my life in a way I cannot begin to describe. It has helped me grow closer to a loving Father in Heaven. It has rescued me from the torment and destruction felt as a result of sin. It has brought me to the light and life of Jesus Christ and I wish to share that feeling with all whom I come into contact.

“Yea, and from that time even until now, I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost” (Alma 36:24).

I will continue to labor and to forward the work of God. I know that Heavenly Father knows you personally. I know that He has an immense love for you and that He wants, more than anything, for you to return to His presence. I know that regardless of what you’ve done, you can repent. You can become better and you can be forgiven so long as you turn to Christ and let Him carry the load you bear daily. I know the weight of that load and I know how tiring and painful it is. But I know more than anything the relief and joy you can experience if you repent and apply the Atonement of Jesus Christ to your life.

“Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life.” (3 Nephi 5:13)

Share Button

Use Facebook to Comment on this Post

Elder Burdge: The Book is True 1/20/14

Share Button
Click here for a free copy of the Book of Mormon

Click here for a free copy of the Book of Mormon

The past two weeks have been full of change and trials. Elder Franks was transferred to a new area where he was assigned to be a zone leader. His area is his first Spanish speaking area of his mission and I know he will do well. I received my new companion and trainer Elder Vazquez. He is from Tlaxcala, Mexico and is the only member of the Church in his family. He joined when he was only nine years old. He heard someone say the name of the Church and immediately he knew that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true Church of God on the earth. Elder Vazquez searched to learn more about the Church and was baptized at nine years of age without having friends or family in the Church. He truly is full of faith and has a strong testimony. I am grateful to be working with him.

I’ve attached an audio file to this email (see above) and I encourage you all to listen to it. It is a testimony directly from an apostle of the Lord, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland about the divinity and truth of the Book of Mormon. I would like to also add my testimony to his. I know that the Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ. Along with the Bible, this sacred book of scripture brings us closer to Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father. It was written by prophets in the ancient Americas. These prophets received revelation from the mouth of God and they truly saw our day. I know of a surety that the Savior appeared to the inhabitants of the Americas and they felt the scars of His atoning sacrifice. I know without a shadow of a doubt that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus the Christ. They called him to be a prophet, seer, and revelator and to restore the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ on this planet. I know that by power given him from God through angelic messangers Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon from ancient records. By the Holy Priesthood he received, Joseph Smith has once again established the necessary ordinances of salvation that allow us all to return to our Father in Heaven. I also know that by the power of the Holy Spirit of God everyone can receive the divine and sure witness that these things are true. I know that if you read and pray in the name of Jesus Christ, with true intent to know that the Book of Mormon is true and to act upon that witness, that prayer will be answered in the affirmative.

“For those who have received that witness, I encourage you to remember 1 Nephi 5:19-22 which says:

“Wherefore, he said that these plates of brass should never perish; neither should they be dimmed any more by time. …

“And we had obtained the records the Lord commanded us, and searched them and found that they were desirable; yea, even of great worth unto us, insomuch that we could preserve the commandments of the Lord unto our children.

“Wherefore, it was wisdom in the Lord that we should carry them with us, as we journeyed in the wilderness towards the land of promise.”

Click here for a short introduction to the Book of Mormon by Elder Holland

Click here for a short introduction to the Book of Mormon by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ

Now the Book of Mormon is not the plates of brass referred to here but the same principle applies. We must consistently read these scriptures. Nephi says that they should not be dimmed by time. Brass becomes bright and shiny the more it is touched and used. When it sits unused it becomes dull and useless because it can no more be read. The counsel he gives to never let the scriptures be dimmed also applies to the testimony we have received. As we read the scriptures the light of Christ within us grows and increases. It shines forth to all and they can see illumination and direction we have in our lives. Our testimony and witness also remain bright as we daily read and search the Book of Mormon. We will find that the words written within are desirable to us and assist us in keeping the commandments and the covenants we have made. All of us are moving forth through some sort of wilderness. We do not know what is immediately ahead of us. However, with the power and strength that comes as we carry the Book of Mormon with us we will reach the promised land prepared for us. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and that it will strengthen all of us in our resolve to follow Christ.

Elder Burdge

Share Button

Use Facebook to Comment on this Post

Elder Burdge 1/6: I completely forgot!

Share Button

I completely forgot an incredible experience we had this week that was truly faith-building. Here is how Elder Franks explained it:

“We had a neat string of events early on last week that I will try to do describe accurately. Sunday night Bishop Whiting called at 10:15 and said, ‘Elders! Sorry I didn’t get to talk to you today at church. I just wanted to get a little update on missionary work. How are things going?’ Elder Burdge gave him the rundown. He then asked us to visit a 19-year-old member and his sister that had just moved into the ward from Mexico and were living with non-member grandparents. Shared (pronounced like Jared, but with a “sh”) had told Bishop that he was preparing to serve a mission. We told him that we would visit him the following evening.

Monday night we showed up and his grandpa let us in. His 18-year-old sister hurried to clean up the apartment and Shared came out to talk with us. The two of them quickly let us know that they were struggling with some questions that their friends asked them about the Church. We helped them find answers to them and then testified of the power of scripture study. We didn’t stay long because they were about to eat dinner. Shared walked us out and broke down as he said goodbye. He explained that he had lost his job that day because he had stolen $75 worth of merchandise. He didn’t know what he would do without a job. He didn’t feel like he could be forgiven. He felt like he had no support spiritually and nobody to talk to. He said, ‘You were an answer to a question I hadn’t asked. Words cannot express how much this means to me and how much you mean to me.’

Tuesday evening we asked him to accompany us to a few people that we wanted to share a message with but weren’t able to go inside without another adult male. None of those people were home so we ended up visiting our backup, backup plan, the Garcia family. They moved into the ward recently but have only come to church once. Brother Garcia was home and let us in. We shared the Mormon Message ‘New Year’s: Look Not Behind Thee‘, which draws upon the story of Lot’s wife and encourages us to leave the past behind and face the future with faith. After the video ended Brother Garcia said, ‘I don’t know what impressed you to come visit us today, but that was exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you.’ He went on to explain that they had been active in the Church but had just gotten lax as they were adjusting to life in a new city. He said that his family would be at church on Sunday. After we left, Shared told us pretty much the exact same thing–that he needed to hear that message. Two birds, one stone.”

Share Button

Use Facebook to Comment on this Post

Elder Burdge 1/6: My Resolve

Share Button

Alas, the Holiday Season has finally come to a close. Now we can visit all of the people who asked us to try them in January. The beginning of a New Year is always an interesting time. We reflect on days past, chances missed, and changes made. There is a Mormon Messages Video titled New Year’s: Look Not Behind Thee that I have used to help me think about the year to come. As I compare myself in January of 2013 and January of 2014, I can see a stark difference. A year ago my faith was wavering. The light of a testimony that I held within was bleak and almost gone. My focus was in the wrong places and I was not putting my efforts into changing those around me. However, I can see that the Lord truly works in mysterious ways.

Almost imperceptibly my life has been changed in only twelve months. While living in Arizona, there were people placed in my path who selflessly sacrificed time and effort to follow promptings from the Holy Spirit. These whisperings led them to urge me to find my way back to the path I had left. They expressed love and care for me. They helped me build my testimony once again in the atonement of Jesus Christ. As I moved forward in my spiritual progression, I know that the hand of Almighty God was there, helping to lift me up.

I know that I was led back to the ways of the Lord because my parents and family have fasted, prayed, and remained true to the covenants they made with Heavenly Father. Orson F. Whitney, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, explained:

The Prophet Joseph Smith declared–and he never taught more comforting doctrine–that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the cause of truth, would save not only themselves but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the shepherd is upon them, and sooner of later they will feel the tentacles of divine providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or in the life to come, they will return. They will have to pay their debt to justice; they will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path; but if it leads them at last, like the penitent prodigal, to a loving and forgiving father’s heart and home, the painful experience will not have been in vain. (Orson F. Whitney, CR April 1929, 110-111)

I have been a sheep who has wandered. Because of the faith and prayers of my family, I have been drawn back to the fold. I have had the opportunity to repent and change my life that I may better myself and those around me. I know that the atonement of Jesus Christ is real. The Son of the Living God suffered all things for every soul to ever set foot on this planet. Christ, Himself, explained this suffering in Doctrine and Covenants Section 19:

Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit–and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink–
Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.
Wherefore, I command you again to repent, lest I humble you with my almighty power; and that you confess your sins, lest you suffer these punishments of which I have spoken, of which in the smallest, yea, even in the least degree you have tasted at the time I withdrew my Spirit.

The command given here by Christ is not in a way of wrath and destruction. This command is a plea for us to change ourselves and let go of our weapons of rebellion (Alma 23:6-8) that we may not suffer more than we have cause. I have felt the pains of His Spirit being withdrawn, and it took all my strength to bear. However, I know, deep within every fiber of my being, that because of the atonement we can all change and improve our lives. The suffering was not in vain. The long road back to the straight and narrow path (1 Nephi 8:20) takes work and is hard, but we are not walking it alone. Our Elder Brother, Jesus Christ, is always with us if we are striving to remain as close to Him as possible.

And so, with this New Year ahead of us, I invite all to never look back; to abandon those straying paths; to turn and open your hearts to receive the merciful and saving power of the atonement. No one lived last year perfectly. We all made mistakes. We all have room to improve. In some ways a New Year is frightening. We don’t know what is ahead of us nor do we know the many difficulties and challenges we will have to go through. Nevertheless, with faith we will succeed. The time ahead of us is comparable to a dark path down which we are walking with only a candle to guide our way. President Boyd K. Packer explained that as we move forward, we make a leap of faith, “it is the moment when you have gone to the edge of the light and stepped into the darkness to discover the way is lighted ahead for just a footstep or two” (Ensign, Jan. 1983, 54-55). I know that as we get to the edge of darkness, the edge of the unknown, and make that first step the divine light of the Lord will follow us and illuminate our way.

After you read this, think about your spiritual development over the past year. Then, in kneeling prayer, make for yourself spiritual goals and ask your Father in Heaven for the strength, the faith, the persistence, and patience to accomplish such. I am a representative of the Savior. I testify of the reality and power of His atoning sacrifice. I know it is available to all who seek Him and take the necessary steps into the uncharted darkness. I promise that as you and I do so, He will light our path and grant us the faith to continue. In the name of the Redeemer of the World, Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Burdge

Share Button

Use Facebook to Comment on this Post