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Hello Everybody!

Well, here we are. This past week was awesome! The highlight was Saturday. I went on exchanges with Elder Sturgell into his area. We had a super awesome day and taught tons! The best was after stopping by one of our recent converts and inviting her to the ward potluck, we decided to walk around the block and stop by another member to see if we could use her bathroom. There was no man home so we couldn't go in and use the bathroom after all, but after leaving the yard and walking starting down the sidewalk, guess who's comes walking across the street, Reachnny! Her's has been the saga of my mission. Elder Atwood and I started teaching her back in April of 2012, and she was awesome! She progressed so well. She was reading the Book of Mormon, and keeping all her commitments. But, it turns out that her dad was not to happy about her converting to Christianity and a week before her scheduled baptism, he found out and said she had to stop learning from the missionaries. We prayed for her situation, and I put her name on the prayer roll hoping that somehow the Lord would be able to provide a way for her to be baptized someday. Time passed. We heard from her very rarely. Then one day Elder Skidmore and Elder Fowler were teaching at our recent convert Mony's house, and who walks out from the back room? Reachnny! Mony and her are cousins. So Reachnny started coming to church with Mony every once in a while, but her dad still forbade her to learn from us. After a few months she left for the Navy and we lost track of her. Then in April when Elder Sturgell and I were companions we got the impression that we should try and get ahold of her. So we texted her, and a couple days later she responded, saying she had just finished boot camp and was in town for Cambodian new year for the week. We made arrangements to meet up at the Cambodian new year festival at the city park. After finding each other at the park we sat down and had a good talk about her life, and how the gospel and baptism would help her. She talked all about her situation and how she wished that she could some how start meeting with us again and join the church. We told her that missionaries were stationed on base where she was in Texas, and because Elder Sturgell was in the Army he was able to tell her how to find the LDS church closest to her base. She said she didn't really want to learn from anyone else but us, but would think about it. Her and I kept in contact over email for a few weeks after she went back to her base in Texas, but eventually we lost contact again. That is until last Saturday on the street. She came over and greeted us and we were so excited to see her! She said she was in town visiting family, and had just been transferred to the Navy base in Oceanside, an hour and a half away. What a miracle!! It was the post she had been hoping for! Then, with the biggest smile on her face she said, "guess what?!? I'm a member!!!" Elder Sturgell and I almost fell over right there on the sidewalk. We were so excited!! The light in her face was so obvious, you could tell something was different, she had the gift of the Holy Ghost. After her and I lost contact on email she went and found the missionaries on her base and went through all the lessons again and got baptized. She was so happy, you could tell that there was a sense of peace about her. A peace I know she hadn't had in her life for a long time. It was awesome! What a perfect end to a mission long story. There is no doubt in my mind that the Lord lives and loves everyone of His children. Yesterday I spoke in sacrament meeting for the last time, afterwards the ward threw a potluck, as a going away farewell for me. The Primary children, and some ward members sang, and there was so much food it was great! Afterwards we went to the departing missionary fireside. It was and awesome fireside!!! Elder Fowler and Elder Hicken sang "I know that my Redeemer lives" in English and Khmer. And the departing missionaries all bore their testimonies. It was powerful! I had my exit interview with President this morning. It was great! (maybe a little emotional too) Now I'm tagging along till the departure dinner tonight. Then tomorrow I fly home with my parents.

Thanks for all your support over these past two years. It has meant so much to me. These truly have been the best two years of my life. I love you all.

Life is good in Long Beach,

សូមសុខសប្បាយ,
-អ៊ែលឌើរឫធី
     (Elder Burbank)

Hello Everybody!

Well It's been an exciting week this week. We had a special Cambodian District transfer on Tuesday. We received two more Cambodian Elders in the Park Ward, which takes our total up to 8. Elder Tarter and Liddell are both from Utah. They've been a great addition to the ward thus far! They're both really fun and can speak Cambodian really well! Elder Low is training Elder Liddell and Elder Sturgell is training Elder Tarter, and the rest of us got shuffled around. Elder Hicken and I are still together (because we're Zone Leaders and they don't want to split us up) but the two of us got moved out of the bike area to the car area with Elder Fowler, which means our area boundaries are now the size of the mission. I'm back in the very first area of my mission! I haven't been back in this area since I was trained by Elder Flory over a year and a half ago. It's been a sort of developing poetic bookend to the story of my mission. It's been fun to work with some of the same people I got to work with when I first started. We're working as hard as ever and we're seeing tons of success. We had three awesome lessons just last night and three people committed to work towards baptismal dates in the coming weeks. One of which was with Sebastian, who is cousins with Tim and Onica. Tim and Onica, if you look all the way back to the first letter I wrote my first week in the field, were the first two people who were baptized when I got here. 

It's been a blast of a week. Thursday morning we got a frantic call from the Assistants who were preparing to have a Zone Conference in one of the zones up north later that morning. They forgot to assign a companionship to give a training at the conference, and asked us if Elder Hicken and I could come last minute as 'guest speakers' and present our training on the roll of listening in teaching. So we got ready real quick and drove up there. We gave our training, and it felt like it went well. We had to leave the conference early to get back to our district meeting, but we've run into a few of missionaries who were there and they said they really enjoyed the training. So that's good. Saturday we had an 8 year-old baptism for two boys in our ward. It was super awesome! Over 90 people showed up to support the baptism and we had a great potluck afterwards. I ended up stepping in as the pianist last minute, and had to ad-lib the closing hymn of the service without music (it was a miracle that I was able to play the song), but the service was awesome. The best part though was that the mothers gave the talks, and the boys were baptized by their worthy priesthood holder fathers. Full families in the gospel! It's somethings that's not very common in our ward, most members join the gospel by themselves and are then disowned by their family. So it was a very special and wonderful thing to see full families in the gospel and how happy each and every one of them were! It's truly God's divinely inspired pattern for ultimate happiness.

We've got tons of appointments and meetings this week. The work is going great! The ward is on fire with missionary work! It's so inspiring to see the joy that people see when they get involve with missionary work. I'm speaking in Sacrament meeting next Sunday, so that should be fun as well! Life is good in Long Beach,

Till next week, I love you all!!

សូមសុខសប្បាយ,
-អ៊ែលឌើរឫធី
     (Elder Burbank)

Hello Everybody!

This week will be quick! We had a great week this past week. The highlights for me were the two exchanges I got to go on. We went on exchanges Tuesday with a companionship in the zone that seemed to be struggling a bit. It was an awesome exchange. I got to work with Elder Eto, he's from Japan and is such an awesome sincere missionary. He's a powerful teacher, I learned a lot from him. We worked hard and I shared some tips I thought might help them in their area. We got to know each other well, and he really appreciated the exchange.

Saturday we went of exchanges with one of our District Leaders. Elder Hicken went with the district leader and I got to work with his companion, Elder Barney. It was another awesome exchange. Elder Barney is really sharp and knows his stuff. We taught a couple lessons together, and I was really impressed. He's only been out for 4 or so months. I was reminded again about the power that the Lord can bestow upon one of his worthy servants regardless their talents, ability, or experience.

We had a great Zone Conference this week. Elder Hicken and I gave a training and we got quite a few complements so I guess it went well!

Life is good in LB!

Thanks for all your love and support,

Till next week!

សូមសុខសប្បាយ,
-អ៊ែលឌើរឫធី
     (Elder Burbank)

Hello Everybody,

It's been a fantastic week! Tuesday nightafter P-day we had our combined missionary mutual with the youth of the ward. It was a huge success. We did a Plan of Salvation tour with a missionary work spin at the end. I got the idea from Elder Laws who did a similar activity in one of the wards he served in in Brazil. We had three classrooms in the church set up as pre-earth life, earth-life, and the Celestial Kingdom. The youth went from room to room learning about the different parts of the plan, and how they were all sons and daughters of God. My companion and I were in charge of the pre-earth life room. So we turned the lights off, covered the windows, and had stars and NASA space pictures projected all over the walls. It looked really cool. We also tried to do dry ice clouds on the floor, but we didn't buy enough ice so it didn't end up working. Oh well. Now I know for next time that it takes a LOT of dry ice to fill a room with fog. We showed the Mormon Message where everyone sings "I am a Child of God" then shared some scriptures and quotes about pre-earth life. It was great! Next they went in to the gym and "performed their earthly labors" (played some fun games and activities.) At the end, we secretly pulled a few people out of the group of youth before they entered the Celestial Kingdom room and had them sit out. The Bishop got up and welcomed everyone to the Celestial Kingdom, but then directed everyone's attention to the people who weren't there. (Missionary work tie-in) He related it to our friends and family who haven't found the Gospel. We finished with another Mormon Message from President Uchtdorf about the ugly duckling, and recognizing our true identity. It was powerful. We finished by eating ice-cream. (Because every good activity need refreshments.) All the leaders gave us a lot of positive feedback and the youth seemed to like it too. We were happy with the outcome.

The rest of the week was great. We taught some powerful lessons and found some new investigators that we're really excited about! Elder Hicken and I had another Mission Leadership council this week, that was really awesome! It was all about having a vision and accomplishing goals, I learned so many things that will help me in my life! This week we have Zone Conference and Elder Hicken and I are giving a training so we're getting ready for that. 

Life is good in LB! I love you all

Till next week,
សូមសុខសប្បាយ,
-អ៊ែលឌើរឫធី
     (Elder Burbank)

Hello Everybody!
 
We had an amazing time at the Temple today!! I'm uplifted and edified everytime I go! This past week was especially awesome! I saw many miracles, and had so many experiences that have strengthened my testimony so much! Elder Hicken and I had a ton of meetings we had to attended, but when we weren't in meetings we were out on the streets, and the Lord blessed us with lots of success. I went on two exchanges this week with other elders. Both were awesome. One of them was with Elder Clawson, he's the newest of the 6 Cambodian missionaries here in LB, and has been here for a little under 3 months. We had an awesome exchange. I really got to spend some time getting to know him since we live in separate apartments and we don't get a ton of opportunities to see each other. We taught a lesson together in the time that I was with him and I was impressed with his amazing teaching ability. He's an awesome missionary and he's 18! I am continually impressed with the amazing new missionaries that are coming in, we are blessed with great elders and sisters in this mission.
 
I had some pretty powerful spiritual experiences that really strengthened my testimony this week that I wanted to share briefly. One was when we were biking home the other night, Elder Hicken and I decided to take one of the streets that we usually don't take when we're trying to get home, but for some reason we decided to go that way. We met one of our former investigators on the street that we haven't been able to get a hold of for a while. We talked for a moment, and he apologized for not getting back to us and said that he hasn't been home because his mom had been in the hospital in a coma for a while, and he's been with her. We expressed our sympathies and asked if he wanted to have a quick prayer for her before we left. He agreed and we said a quick prayer for her. A few days later while I was on exchanges, Elder Hicken saw him on the street again and he said that his mom had come out of her coma! What a miracle. Prayer is powerful. Sunday, one of the members of our ward had a seizure in Sunday school. My companion and I took him to the foyer so the class could continue. He has epilepsy, and has had seizures at church before, but this one was particularly bad. Every time he'd come out of it, he take a few breaths, try and say something, then start seizing again. We tried to help him stay calm for over 45 minutes, but nothing seemed to work. We decided to move him to the mother's room so he was out of the way and wouldn't be embarrassed by the people walking in the halls, and with the help of some other elders from the Spanish branch, we helped walk him to the room. We then gave him a Priesthood blessing. Within minutes of finishing the blessing, his consciousness returned, the convulsions stopped, and he was feeling himself again. My testimony of the power of the priesthood was strengthened so much by that experience. Another miracle was that 5 non-members came to church this week, we've been struggling with getting people to church lately, but this week everything fell in to place and our investigators were able to come. It was an awesome Sunday! There is no doubt that this work is true. How could it not be?
 
I love you all! Thanks so much for all your support.
 
Life is good in LB!
សូមសុខសប្បាយ,
-អ៊ែលឌើរឫធី
     (Elder Burbank)




Hello Everybody,
 
This week was great! The transfer is off to a great start! Elder Hicken and I are doing great. We've been able to better stay on top of all our Zone Leader duties now that it's just the two of us. We had our first Mission Leadership Council ("ZLC" if you're 'old-school') of the transfer Saturday. It was a great meeting. We learned a lot about President Tew's vision for the mission, and how we can help all the missionaries in the mission find success. The theme was working together as a team, and setting goals that are meant to be achieved. I was re-inspired, to continually work harder and "forget myself," something that I'm still working on. I've learned so many lessons on my mission, but I'm continually humbled and reminded by the Spirit that I've only been a member of this human family for a little over 20 years, and I still have A LOT to learn. And, that the best way to learn is by serving and teaching others. It's a humbling lesson that I get re-taught quite often. We dang teenagers always "think" we know it all.
 
Anyway, everything's in a bit of a stir right now with the new missionary clothing policy. Since backpacks aren't allowed anymore elders are trying to look for shoulder-bags that aren't a pain in the side (pun intended) to bike with. It's a tough bill to fit. We'll see what happens. There's alot of cool changes that are happening in missionary work right now. It'll be fun to watch all the new policies take effect in the coming months.
 
Now for the work. We had a slower week this week and didn't have any investigators at church, but we're looking ahead and I think we'll get some people this coming week. Sitha our recent convert received the Priesthood last week and came early yesterday and helped set up the sacrament. He's the first Priesthood aged man that I've taught and has gotten baptised, it's been so awesome to help teach him about the Priesthood and his duties. He's finished the Book of Mormon and moved on to the Doctrine and Covenants so we're helping him to understand church organization and the roll of the Priesthood. He's awesome!
 
Life's good in LB. Thanks for all your support,
 
Till next week,
 
សូមសុខសប្បាយ,
-អ៊ែលឌើរឫធី
     (Elder Burbank)

Hello Everybody!

Another great week! We tracted, we taught, and we triumphed (I thought I'd be a little poetic today). Transfers are tomorrow and I'm staying here. Elder Sturgell is leaving so it'll just be Elder Hicken and I the Zone Leaders together in this area for these next 6 weeks. Fun stuff. I thought I'd share a little about working in the Park ward today.

We're working hard to help the members grow in their testimonies and gospel knowledge so they can feel comfortable participating in missionary work. It's been a lot of work since almost all the members are converts, and a good chunk have joined the church in the past 5 years or so, so the gospel is still new to many of them and the "Mormon culture" (FHE, bearing testimony, giving talks, holding callings) is not as prevalent in our ward. Also, many members of our ward came to the United States in the '80s and early '90s as refugees to escape the war and have attended little formal schooling. It's been a great experience as a missionary to work with these people and not only teach them what to learn (the Gospel), but also how to learn. It was an interesting realization for me to encounter some people who didn't have a concrete understanding of how to learn. Many would say "if I read it once and it didn't stick, then my brain was too old to learn it." If that were true, I definitely shouldn't have been able to graduate from High School. Teaching people to read, ponder, take notes, re-read, ask questions, and above all call upon the spirit to help, has become a big part of how we teach. I've developed a philosophy in my teaching that comes from a quote I once read, I feel it applies in any instance when someone is put in a position to teach, and especially in missionary work. It goes something like this: "do not teach people clearly enough so they can understand. Teach so clearly that no one can misunderstand." Striving to teach in that way has helped me grow so much on my mission as a missionary, as a teacher, and as a person. Patience and understanding is required. One of the greatest rewards in missionary work for me is when we're working so hard to help people understand and then it clicks, and they finally 'get it.' It's awesome.

I've come to appreciate "Mormon culture" on my mission as well. I used to poke fun at all the stereotypical things that members of the church do, but coming here and seeing wards that don't have a gospel culture has been eye opening. When working with converts in wards with a strong gospel culture, growth and learning takes place rapidly. Some converts of only a few years you could mistake for someone who had grown up their whole lives in the church. In wards without it often the only time that many members will come in contact with the gospel is for the 3 hours at church on Sunday. And growth is much slower. We're helping to grow a gospel centered culture in the Park ward right now. Sometimes there are conflicts between the culture of the gospel and the Cambodian culture, but as we work to help people see and live God's culture people begin to unlock the big vault of blessings that our Heavenly Father has for those who learn and live the teachings. Interestingly enough, the most amazing growth happens in the complete families (Mother & Father married with kids) where all family members are members of the church, and attend regularly. God's way is always the best.

Anyway, that's my two cents for this week.

Life is good in LB!

Till next week,

សូមសុខសប្បាយ,
-អ៊ែលឌើរឫធី
     (Elder Burbank)