Elder Burdge “Buying Dollars” 2/3/14

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The past week has been full of progress and learning. We had a zone conference where we learned what we are made of individually. As the meeting started, President Slaughter told us that there weren’t words to explain what we would be learning that day. The best he could think of was that when an orange is squeezed, what comes out will be orange juice. He compared it to us as members of the Church and missionaries: when we are in confrontational situations or just teaching in general, what are we putting forth? The missionaries split off into groups where we did role plays of a variety of situations. I learned that often we have automatic responses to things when we should first think and be guided by the Spirit. For example, when someone tells us that Mormons aren’t Christian, usually our first response is to prove them wrong and say, “Yes we are.” Such a response just leads to arguing and we leave the presence of the Spirit. I learned that when interacting with others, it is not important to tell them what I know. I am here to help those around me increase their knowledge and come closer to Christ.
After the meeting Elder Vazquez and I went to stop by a potential investigator. A week ago this man told us that he just isn’t going to have time for the Mormons this year. We knocked on his door this night and when he answered he said it was not the best time. However, he wanted us to meet his wife. As we exchanged salutations he decided to let us in because it was cold outside. Often as missionaries we search for the needs of those with whom we come into contact. We are not good at it. We batter them with questions and pry at their lives searching for what they need to hear. After the zone conference, we learned instead that if we listen with love and care for the individual, what they need will be given us by the Spirit and by the friend we are talking to. Such was the case as Elder Vazquez and I spoke to this couple.
We were able to find out what mattered to them because they told us freely. We were able to teach the gospel and bear testimony based on what we were given. We were all able to be edified and strengthened by the Spirit that night and this couple readily invited us to return. I know that as we receive guidance and inspiration and act upon it, we will move forward in the Lord’s work.
Click the photo to watch the LDS Bible video "The Ten Virgins" Matthew Ch. 25

Click the photo to watch the LDS Bible video “The Ten Virgins” Matthew Ch. 25

Recently the Church released another Bible video of Christ teaching the parable of the Ten Virgins. The oil in the lamps can be likened to our conversion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The five wise virgins tell us that we need to “buy for ourselves” the oil. Daily we accumulate oil of conversion as we read the scriptures, pray to God, do service, etc. However, are we buying our oil with pennies or with dollars? Reading the scriptures we gain drops of oil (we buy with pennies) and as we feast upon those words (2 Nephi 31:20), applying them to our lives we gain cups of oil (buying with dollars). As we pray, we express thanks for what we have received, we ask for things we need, and pray for blessings (pennies), but as we conclude our prayers as actively attempt to accomplish the work necessary to receive such blessings we gain buckets of oil (buying with dollars).

In his April 2008 General conference talk titled “Ask in Faith,” Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained:
“I long have been impressed with the truth that meaningful prayer requires both holy communication and consecrated work. Blessings require some effort on our part before we can obtain them, and prayer, as ‘a form of work, …is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings’ (Bible Dictionary, “Prayer,” 753). We press forward and persevere in the consecrated work of prayer, after we say ‘amen,’ by acting upon the things we have expressed to Heavenly Father. Asking in faith requires honesty, effort, commitment, and persistence.”
Blessings come as we actively work to receive them. We must go out and try to obtain them in order to demonstrate to the Lord our desires. As we act in faith we buy more oil for our lamps of testimony.
Daily accumulating oil, while important, is not our only responsibility. Just as the wise virgins we should remind those around us to go and buy for themselves. Reminding is best done through testimony. We are awaiting the arrival of Christ. Perhaps we are standing in the light and do not have the need to depend on our lamps to keep us safe. We are not going through immense trials, relying solely upon our faith and testimony to guide us to the next morn. In such fortunate circumstances, we can remind those around us by lighting our lamps or in other words, bearing our testimonies. As we put a little oil into our lamps, trim the wick, and let our light shine, it will inspire those around us to buy for themselves that they may also have such bright lamps. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16).
I encourage everyone to let their lights shine, to bear their testimonies, to share truths that have changed your life, to share the Lord’s hand in your life, in order that we might help those around us have a desire to so buy for themselves.
Elder Burdge
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Elder Burdge: Why I am a Missionary 1/27/14

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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)

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

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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

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Elder Burdge 1/6: I completely forgot!

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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.”

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Elder Burdge 1/6: My Resolve

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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

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Elder Ammon Burdge 12/30: “The End of the Holiday Season”

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elder burdge 011Christmas flew by rather quickly, but I enjoyed it very much. I loved opening the packages and things I received from my family and feeling the love and support they each give to me. I had the great opportunity of calling home and talking with my parents again. I know that they worry and pray for me. I appreciate those prayers and the assistance they give me. What I have missed most this Christmas is my siblings. As a missionary I am with someone every second of every day. I’ve had people ask if that is difficult for me or something that was hard to get used to. In all honesty, it’s not.

elder burdge 008Most of my life has been spent right alongside all of my siblings. I remember all of us playing together in the various places we’ve lived. I remember Ben and Helaman riding the bus with me to school. I remember Sariah always being there to teach me rhymes and play music. When we were little we all used to play with a tape recorder and have radio talk shows pretending we were radio DJs. Growing up I never had my own room. Helaman and I always shared a room and because of our closeness in age we’ve done so many things together. So having a companion is nothing new to me. However, I missed being woken up Christmas morning by Ben and going out to see what Santa had left us. I missed having my siblings there to enjoy the holiday. But I am grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ because I know that we will never be separated in the eternities as long as we remain true to what we know.

The pictures are of our paper Christmas tree with our presents below it and a Christmas Cactus!

Love,

Elder Burdge

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What Shall We Give? -The Mormon Tabernacle Choir

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“Wise men still follow that star that shines within us. Will you help your friends and family reach Him?” -Elder Ammon Burdge

Click the picture to hear the song "What Shall We Give?" performed by The Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Click the picture to hear the song “What Shall We Give?” performed by The Mormon Tabernacle Choir

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Elder Ammon Burdge: 12/23 The All-Encompassing Light During the Darkest Time of Year

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Sermon on the Mount – Carl Bloch

The past couple weeks have been busy! We’ve been blessed by the Lord to have degrees of success in our area. I’ve also noticed that because we all have agency, sometimes the best of choices aren’t made. Serving as a missionary during the holidays is difficult because most people are busy with Christmas shopping and whatnot. As a result, most of the people we speak with ask us to come in January instead. Such was the case with the generous man and his family. With the hustle and bustle of Holidays, they decided they would have perhaps more time to hear from us in January rather than December. I’ve learned that after all we can do, people still have a choice and tradition usually takes priority.

However, we were granted success in teaching another family. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints there is a group of leaders that meet a few times a month to discuss how best to help the area in which we live. The Bishop and other leaders discuss those who are struggling and how the Church can support and strengthen them. Together with this council, my companion and I have been trying to reach out to a less active family. There is a lady there who is a member of the Church along with her 23 year old son. Living with her are her 25 year old daughter and her fiance, a godchild of the woman with his wife and 3 year old son, another son who is 12, and a couple other people we haven’t met. Their situation is difficult. They have run into hard times and are struggling to get by. The Church has been offering support but no one has been able to meet with the family to help meet their spiritual needs. The week before last, I was able to meet with them along with their home teacher while my companion taught another investigator with the young men of our ward.

I went with this Brother and together we invited the Spirit into their home and bore testimony of the importance of Church attendance. We discussed that in order to receive blessings from the Lord, we need to obey the commandments He gives us (D&C 130: 20-21). We invited this family to come to Church so that they can feel the Spirit and take the Sacrament. I asked the others who were living there if we could stop by and teach them about the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and two of the men agreed.

A couple days later my companion and I split up again so that he could teach a part member family at the same time. Together a Brother from the ward and I met with a man and his wife who was 9 months pregnant. While we started teaching, the 12 year old young man joined us. We bore testimony of the Book of Mormon that it testifies of Jesus Christ. We taught them about the Prophet Joseph Smith and how the Savior called Him to Restore the Church Jesus Christ again on the Earth. I asked them if they would read the Book of Mormon, pray to know that it is true and Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. They agreed. It was amazing to see the joy they found in what we discussed with them. To see the interest and excitement in the young man as he learned from us was incredible.

Elder Franks and I met with them another time and were joined by another man in the house. This man’s fiance is also 9 months pregnant. As we’ve taught him and asked him to read and pray to find the truth, he has struggled. His family is baptist and he still clings to the traditions of his family. He feels the Spirit and he feels it to be true but he isn’t sure if he can let go of the past. We are working with him and the other four to build their faith and act on that faith.

We had a great encounter last week with a man who was on a list in our area book of someone who we should stop by. We went to his house and he invited us in. He told us that he works with a lot of LDS people and has heard about Joseph Smith. We taught him about the Restoration and he told us that he has read the Book of Mormon and prayed about it but didn’t get an astounding confirmation of it’s truth. In my life, I’ve searched for these knees-weakening answers from God and I know there are those who receive those things. However, I also know that the Spirit of God testifies to us as a still, small voice. A feeling of peace, love, and happiness. A calming influence in our lives. But still, many search for awe-inspiring answers to their prayers. As I asked this man about when he read and prayed, he told me that he felt good. He felt happy. He felt that the Book contained good things in it, but he just never felt a powerful witness of the truth of it. I told him about the Spirit and how it often manifests to us in small ways such as the feelings he felt in the past. I bore testimony that if he would read and pray again about the Book of Mormon, he won’t even have to get halfway through before he knows that it is true and it is of God. I have been striving to search for myself for the small whisperings of the Spirit rather than the mind-blowing manifestations.

Today we met with him again and his wife, who is Catholic, joined us. He had read the first few chapters of the Book of Mormon and we discussed what he’d learned with his wife. The man is searching to find what Heavenly Father wants for him and he says he is leaving it up to the Lord’s own timing. We’ve encouraged them to read as a family and pray together and we will be meeting with them again next week. I am thankful for the opportunities we’ve had to share with those around us these past couple weeks. It’s crazy that Christmas is in only a few days!

This Christmas will be different for me than years past. I’ve never been a fan of the Christmas Season, but I’ve been rebuked by the Spirit and realized the significance of this time of year. We celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ in December which is the darkest time of year for our part of the world. The days are short, and we have long, dark nights that are often quite cold. The prophets in the Bible and in the Book of Mormon testified that when Christ would be born, a new star would shine for the world to see. These prophets added light into the world with their testimonies of our Savior little by little. When Christ was born, the star shone in Bethlehem and was seen across the world in the Americas. As the Lord walked the Earth His light shone to everyone who searched for Him, but many rejected that light and He was crucified on the cross. The light that Jesus Christ brought into the world was destroyed. Almost two thousand years later, a boy prayed so that he could find that light. Just as the wiseman who came from afar, Joseph Smith read the prophecies and desired to find the Redeemer of the world. As he prayed he saw a pillar of light, above the brightness of the sun. Christ called him to be His prophet and to restore His gospel.

Joseph Smith sees Christ and God the Father

When Jesus Christ and God the Father appeared to the prophet, it was no longer the light of a star shining, but the glory of the Sun beaming radiantly. That brilliant light will never again leave the Earth. It beckons all to partake of the glorious gospel which has been restored. In truth, that light reflects from all of us who have a knowledge and a testimony of this gospel and this truth. We are all standing in that pillar of light and those around us see the light we are in. We have the opportunity and obligation to share that light and invite those we love and respect to join us in it.

There is a song that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings titled “What Shall We Give?” In the holiday spirit we become wrapped up in the concerns of what to give our friends, what to give our family, what we will get. But the most important question each of us should ask is what shall we give Christ? Our Savior was born in a stable and came to live in the lowliest of circumstances, to suffer all, to experience the worst, all that we might be saved. He’s given us two incredible gifts: His atonement, and our agency. For Christmas, and for Christ, I pray that we all might share and give of both gifts. To give of our time, effort, and lives to share the atonement of Jesus Christ with all those around us. To escape our comfort zones to reach out to those who need this light we have. Wise men still follow that star that shines within us. Will you help your friends and family reach Him?

Love,

Elder Burdge

 

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Elder Ammon Burdge 12/9: Receiving Witness After the Trial of my Faith

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When I received my mission call and read that I was going to the Texas San Antonio Mission, I thought for sure I would bid farewell to cold weather. I could not have been more wrong. This past week has been freezing. We’ve had ice in the roads and even seen icicles off the houses. My companion Elder Franks and I have found ourselves in quite the paradox: if you want to stay warm on a bike, you need to ride fast, if you ride fast you are unable to feel your hands or your face. We’ve decided it’s probably best to just have frozen faces because messengers of the Lord declare good tidings of great joy (Luke 2:10). If we are doing so we need to have smiles on our faces. In this winter weather it is fairly easy to keep a smile on your face when it’s frozen that way.

This past week has been filled with challenge after challenge. It’s interesting to me that I am passing through a refiner’s fire in the cold heart of winter (D&C 128:24). We had dinner a few nights ago with a part-member family. The mother is a member of the church but her husband is not. We wanted to share with them a Christmas message that would invite the Spirit into their home which would encourage them to attend church and seek the gospel of Jesus Christ. However, as we were about to share our thoughts, the mother had to put her kids to bed and her husband walked us to the door. Bummer. That wasn’t going to break our spirits though because that night we would teach our only investigator; until she cancelled. We then decided to visit part-member and less active families in the area. None were interested. Cold, tired, and disheartened, we returned to our apartment.

Christ in Gethsemane – Carl Heinrich Bloch

As a missionary fresh out of the MTC, one expects the work to be thriving. It is thought that all will want to hear that they are sons and daughters, kings and queens, of the Most High God. To hear that their older brother suffered all things for them, “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–would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink” (D&C 19:18). To hear how they can gain a testimony of Him, to exercise faith in Him, and desire to repent and be baptized. As a week and half old missionary, at times it has appeared that this is not so.

Prayerfully and humbly we have planned our days with the hope and faith that we will go to the houses of those who are prepared and seeking to come unto Christ. We headed out the next day into a world even colder than the day previous, earnestly desiring to find the chosen vessels of the Lord (Moroni 7:31). Not a block from our apartment complex, my bike ceased to function. The chain was grinding against the derailer making it hazardous to ride. We returned home. On foot we left our apartment realizing that the work must go on.

As I look back on this point in the week I can see that nearly everything that could go wrong happened. The weather was threatening, our message was not being received, those who had listened to us previously cancelled our appointment, and our means of transportation was reduced to the strength of our own feet. I remember wondering how we would ever have success when we can’t even travel very far.

That day and night were not much better than those before. Everyone we visited was busy or uninterested. A lady who had stopped us days before with a friendly welcome, told us it was freezing outside and to come by some other time. Nevertheless, we continued on. We decided to go to the house of a woman who previous missionaries had listed as a potential investigator. As we knocked on the door, a man answered and welcomed us right in without hesitation. A miracle! We sat with him and his son and he told us that he has a lot of respect for our church and enjoys our meetings. He told us that he has even felt “the burning in the belly.” He said that he would be interested in listening to us and that his girlfriend, the woman in the list, would probably like to hear as well. He asked us how we were getting around, and after I told him about my bike, he lent me his! After several minutes of talking his girlfriend came home from work. She told us that she works in retail and could not have anytime to learn from us until January. We gave them an invitation to the Stake Choir Christmas Concert and left with the borrowed bike.

The next day, at the concert, the man, his girlfriend, and their son came to hear the choir! I have never been so happy. The gospel of Jesus Christ is not solely for individuals. The Plan of Salvation is centered on families. We did not come to Earth alone; we were born into families. Our purpose as missionaries is not to baptize and bring unto Christ just one man, but his entire family as well so that they can be sealed together and each be partakers of eternal life. When I saw the man and his family arrive and sit down together to hear songs of Christ and celebrate His birth, I finally understood this to be my purpose.

The following day we took my bike to a guy who fixes all the missionary bikes and he fixed it for us. That night we met with a 16 year old recent convert. He has been struggling to come to church because he feels that some of the leaders are out to get him. For weeks the previous missionaries have not had success in helping him attend. As we talked and met with him, I was prompted to share with him the sacrament prayer. He had told us that a lot of people think he’s a jerk and he is proud of that. I explained to him that after we are baptized we take upon us the name of Christ. I asked him why we take the sacrament and he answered that it was to remember our covenants. I explained to him that there is a difference between the prayers for the bread and the water, more than just the blessing of two different things. The sacrament prayer states that as we take the bread, we demonstrate to the Father that we are willing to take upon us the name of Christ, to always remember Him and keep His commandments (Moroni 4:3). The prayer for the water states that as we drink the water we are showing our Heavenly Father that we will do those things (Moroni 5:2). The sacrament is how we show God that we are willing to follow Christ and that we do follow Christ.

I asked what the Lord gives us if we take the sacrament and he responded that we get the Spirit. “But why do we want the Spirit?” He told me, “So that we can be more Christlike.” “Isn’t it difficult to be more Christlike if we don’t have the Spirit and we don’t go to Church?” I posed. He responded, “a little, I guess.” “It’s impossible,” I told him. The Holy Ghost acts as a gauge, which tells us how close we are to being like Christ. It prompts us to do good and to help others as Christ would. When we do things that Christ wouldn’t do, we depart from the Spirit. The gospel of Jesus Christ is to have faith in Him and his atonement, to repent, to be baptized, and to endure to the end. As members of the church we’ve already done three of those things. In order for us to endure to the end, we have to have the Spirit with us.

I asked him if he would attend church so that he can take the sacrament, to repent and receive the Spirit so that he can know how to live his life more like Christ. He said he would and on Sunday he did.

This week has been challenging for multiple reasons. However, after going through it all, I know that if it had not been for those trials, we would not have met that family and the young man would not have come to church. I know that Heavenly Father hears are prayers and is willing to answer them so long as we are willing to pass through the necessary trials. I know that the Eternal Creator of all things puts trials into our life, not because He is a hateful God who wants to make our lives difficult, but because He loves us infinitely and wants to help us grow and progress. The trials I faced had purpose and I am so grateful that I was able to endure them.

Love,

Elder Burdge

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Elder Ammon Burdge: TSAM address update!

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New snail mail address for Ammon!

Elder Ammon Burdge

5001 Convict Hill Road #801

Austin, Texas

78749

Ammon’s email address will remain the same throughout his mission, but in case you lost it, here it is: ammon.burdge@myldsmail.net

 

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