I am a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and have been called to serve in the Sacramento California Mission! This is my blog where you can follow my adventures for the next 18 months (January, 2013-June, 2014)
Did you know that Sacramento was the original place of the California Gold Rush? I'm so excited! See ya'll in 18 months, I'm going for spiritual Gold!

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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Week 2 - MTC

Italic Print is additional explanation
Thursday, January 17, 2013 8:24 AM

Hello y'all!
I got the camera in the mail yesterday! Thank you! It appears to work fine, so next Pday (which will probably be in Sactown, CRAZY) I will be able to send some pictures. If my comp has her camera now I might be able to send some today but I'm not sure if she does or not. 

Oh yeah, we got our travel plans. We leave here Tuesday at 8 and then our flight out of SLC is at like 11:30ish. We get to California at like 12:30 their time. Our Mission Pres told us to bring an overnight bag because we will spending our first night in an apartment near the mission home so we'll see how all that goes down when we get there. The MTC made me the travel leader for our group of 17 missionaries, which basically means I'm in charge of making sure they all get there safe and sound with their luggage. Party on! I do love being in charge, although, I have no idea whose idea it was to put the Queen of Southwest in charge of a flight on Delta airlines. 
James - Happy Birthday Baby! I have a present going in the mail for you today so you should get it sometime in the next 18 months.
Ok so this week, we got some new investigators, and then they took them ALL away! Because they will be transitioning English speaking missionaries over to 12 days at the end of this month, they cut our TRC teaching from two weeks to one week. So This weekend they were just like "Sorry, no more TRC for you." We didn't even get to say goodbye! We had finally made progress with Eric, our Bible basher, and I wanted to see my wonderful less active Carol again, but alas they are no more for my MTC experience. How rude. I really loved them. Our teacher said it's just like you getting transferred in the field, so I better get used to it. 
We also got moved classroom buildings this week. Because of all the new missionaries coming in, they were moving around the districts. My district was lucky enough to be the only district moved from 4M (the newly renovated and nicest classroom building on campus) to 11 M (the oldest, smallest, most rundown building on campus with teeny tiny flip up desks and nowhere to put all your material. It's like a hot musty closet with a tv.) How we got so lucky, I do not know. I think it was a way of God humbling us and teaching us in His almighty way to be grateful for what we do have - like a classroom inside instead of out in the freezing cold and snow. 
But if that wasn't trial enough, they took away my favorite teacher ever - Brother Johnson, or Bro J as we call him not to his face - and gave us a new teacher - Brother Heaton. Brother Heaton is super nice, but he just teaches differently and I just loved Bro J. Confession of the natural Sarah (which is the enemy to Sister Burchett), if he had been a couple inches taller, I would have totally dated him in my former life. So maybe this was God's way of saying, geez Sister Burchett, get your head out of the clouds and into the scriptures. I can see BYU Broadcasting from my dorm window, and hear the bells from campus, so it's hard to remember I'm a missionary for a few fleeting seconds sometimes. But that's ok, I love it!
I got to be a host for new sister missionaries yesterday. We basically escort them around when they first get here and help them get moved into their residence, their books picked up, and to their classroom. So much fun! We had 666 new missionaries (what a lucky group, I know) and 270 of them were sisters. Each week it is getting bigger. By April there will be 6,000 missionaries at the MTC as opposed to the normal 2,500. Because of this, missionaries are 6 to a room. We got two new roommates yesterday. We have said hello and goodnight to them so I couldn't tell you anything about them and probably won't really ever know anything because we will only see them as we climb into bed. 
Now for the really good news: On Tuesday, the man himself, my favorite tell it like it is pulpit pounder Jeffrey R. Holland (Member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles) came to speak to us! I nearly died of excitement. He came to give the Tuesday night devotional and to rededicate 3 of the newly renovated buildings here on campus. He talked about a lot of things and I'm a dummy who left her journal in her room but here are the things that I remember that stick out:
"Every missionary today is expected to come home with at least one convert, and it had better be you! There is no reason in time or all eternity why you shouldn't come home from your mission completely converted. Preach My Gospel was designed to convert you, and then you can go out and convert other people. There is no excuse for an inactive return missionary. I hear about these missionaries coming home and getting tattoos and their hair in braids. Well, let me just tell you this. I am not unbiased about this. I am not even remotely neutral. In fact, I'm mildly unbalanced. If you're on your way to do something like that when you get home from your mission, you better hope you don't meet me in a dark alley. I'll go crazy."
"Missionaries should not be on their missions thinking about 'when I get back to real life...' This IS real life! This is as real as it gets! This is the salvation of souls!"
"When the Sons of Mosiah and Alma the younger (Prophets in the Book of Mormon) preached, the people were astonished. Do you know what astonished means? It means to speak with Thunder. So go out and astonish someone. This doesn't mean that you are dramatic or loud or overbearing. It means you have a testimony of this gospel in the very marrow of your bones and the depths of your soul, so when you share it, it's like thunder to the people who hear it. So go astonish someone."
"I don't know what you did in the councils in Heaven or how you got your spot in line to come to earth and be a missionary at this time, but I have to say, there may be a more exciting time in the history or future of the church to be a missionary, but I don't know when that is. You are part of the surging of God's church into the 21st century. You must be the best missionaries we have ever had. You remember Alma, Ammon, the sons of Mosiah? (Prophets in the Book of Mormon) You must be better than them. Peter, Paul? You must be better than they ever were. I have this belief, this theory if you will, that every prophet, priest, and teacher, in every dispensation before this pressed on the way they did and kept going even though they knew that they would ultimately fail, that the people would become wicked and reject the truth, because they knew you wouldn't. They knew that this time, in the final dispensation, you would not fail. You would succeed as the servants of Christ have never succeeded before." 
He then rededicated the buildings and in the dedicatory prayer it was so cool. He first asked the Lord to rededicate us as missionaries for His cause and bless us to be the very best and to live up to His expectations for us. He called down the angels of heaven to guard the windows, walls, furnishings, and gates of the MTC. He blessed the MTC that no act of violence would ever occur here. That no one would ever come to harm our missionaries. That no weapons would ever enter the gate. That the angels would protect the Lord's servants here. So, if you ever need a safe place to go, the MTC has an army of angels all around us so it's a safe bet. And now, everywhere I go, I think about the angels standing near us and protecting God's soldiers as they prepare for battle. Freaking sweet! 
I got several letters this week, but it was so cool I got one from Sandra Poirier who is the woman from General Conference. She wrote me the most beautiful letter about her conversion and testimony. I feel the spirit every time I read it. (Sandra Poirier a woman who was sitting behind Sarah at General Conference when they announced the change in age requirements for missionaries. Sarah was overcome with emotion and Sandra handed her a tissue and asked her if she was crying because she could go. Sandra told Sarah she had been converted by the Sister Missionaries and then gave Sarah her address and told Sarah to contact her. She promised to write Sarah while she was on her mission.)
Ok, well for the rest of this week things are speeding up and winding down at the same time. We have In-Field training tomorrow, where we have been told they teach us everything we haven't learned in class about being a missionary. Then Saturday we have class, Sunday we church and fireside and departure devotional. Monday morning our Elders leave so we sisters will be by ourselves. Then we leave Tuesday morning. It is so crazy to think that my time here is almost over, but I am SO ready to get to Sacramento already. 
I love all of you and I'm grateful for the letters and the packages. Hope the snow is gone and everybody is doing well. I miss you, but I love being a missionary and God has some big plans in store for me. He hasn't told me what they are yet, but what's new. He's big on leaps of faith. 
Sister Burchett

P.S. I don't care what you put on the blog and what you don't. If I'm having a crappy week, feel free to tell the world. It happens, and that's the reality of missionary work. I'm not over concerned about my privacy. Never been an issue for me, but you know that! 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Week 1 - MTC

 Italic Print is additional explanation 
Thursday, January 10, 2013 8:38 AM

Hello everybody!
It is snowy and cold here at the MTC, but the weather is finally warming up a little from bitter cold to normal cold.
Questions recap.
I do not have the virus. A lot of missionaries were sick, but when we got here they kind of quarantined the new ones and we aren't supposed to shake hands or hug etc. I think everyone is better now.
Did you get my letter about the camera yet? Basically I bought a new SD card here and it was working then it stopped and now it won't work at all and I'm thinking its the camera. I've tried everything and the lovely piece of technology just will not work. Hence, I have no pictures this week.
In other news, the MTC is great. I'm exhausted spiritually, but it feels awesome! I think I should be more exhausted physically, but I pray everyday for the energy to work hard and have the spirit for my investigators and I feel the Lord helping me.
My first day here we had a workshop for all the new missionaries where we group taught an investigator. I met Sister Voyles and Elder Christensen from the District. (BYU TV Documentary about 8 missionaries) They teach here. Sister Voyles asked my companion and me to do a door approach for the last investigator. So, we were the first missionaries out of our group that entered to do a door approach at the MTC. Scary, but fun. After a week, a door approach isn't only not scary, but it seems totally simple and the easiest part of what we do.
On Wed. they have BYU Creamery Ice Cream. It's nice to feel that BYU connection, but honestly I have been really blessed. I'm not homesick or schoolsick. I just love being a missionary. The Lord has really helped me as I've tried to leave all my desires behind and devote my time to Him. Yesterday I was SO excited for the new missionaries to come in and I was just saying hello and welcome to the MTC and the other sisters were like, "I don't really see the point. I mean they are happy today but they're going to be tired and exhausted like us tomorrow." The Sister Burchett side of me smiles and encourages them and doesn't take it personally that they think I'm Missionary Barbie.
So in preparation for our missions we are already teaching 5 investigators and we get another one tomorrow!
Note on our investigators: Some of them are volunteers. Some of them are paid employees. Some are members and some are non-members. We have no idea who anyone is or what their story is in real life. Some people are converts or reactivated and they are portraying their former selves. We are told to think of them as real people and treat it as a real experience if we want to learn. It's been amazing to see how taking it seriously and doing that brings the Spirit and miracles.
Here's a brief recap. I wish I had time to tell you all about them, but here is a shpeel.

Robert – (our teacher Brother Johnson's alter-ego and a man he taught on his mission) He is 62, retired, divorced, raised Catholic, and is letting the missionaries teach him. The challenge with Robert is that he doesn't say much besides, yeah, good, fine, and I think so. He's hard to read, but I love him! He has a great spirit and really tries to be a good man. 

Meagan – (our teacher Sister Call's alter-ego) She is 28 recently married, with an 8 year old son and a 3 week old son. She's a nurse on maternity leave who has two really good LDS friends who helped her quit drinking. She wants to know what about the Church makes her friends so happy.
Valley – (my zone teaching investigator, Zone teaching is where each of us missionaries were told to pick a non-member we know and portray them and then we teach each other) Valley is a nice older lady who lives alone. Her son is a convert and she has two grandsons on missions. I think she is only talking to the missionaries to be nice and isn't really interested in learning about the church, but we'll get her there.
Eric - My most colorful investigator. He's from Chicago. He's black. He goes to BYU. He is meeting with the missionaries because he wants to know more about what LDS people believe. Our first appointment was a disaster! It turned into a Bible Bash, and we couldn't get it back under control. He knows the scriptures in the Bible back and forth, and so it just went south as he would disagree with our interpretations or say "No the Bible doesn't say that!" After that first appointment we felt really discouraged. I started praying for help because I knew there was no way we could teach Eric on our own. We needed divine guidance and the spirit more than ever. Over the next two days, I kept having the impression to share a hymn with Eric before our lesson. I was impressed to share the 1,3, and final additional verse of Come Follow Me. I wanted to sing it to him, but my companion didn’t. So, instead I read the words to him before we prayed. It really brought the Spirit (Thanks aunt Sheri for that advice!). We had a great lesson about the Holy Ghost and how to use the Spirit to testify of truth. We taught him how to recognize the spirit and challenged him to pray to know what the spirit feels like and be able to recognize it. Eric may not be baptized in the time we work with him, but he will grow closer to the Savior, and those seeds will be planted. 

Carol - Our Less active. Carol was a convert at age 25. Now she's 75. Her son went inactive when he wasn't worthy to serve a mission. Then her husband was killed when their tractor rolled over him in the driveway. Since then, about 17 years, she hasn't been to church. Carol knows the church is true. She's been sealed in the temple. She's just afraid to go to church. I think it's because she doesn't want to be alone. We had a great meeting with her. I felt the Spirit strongly and my Savior working through me as I was impressed to testify to her that there was someone in her ward who needed her. There was someone that only she could comfort and help. She needed to be at church to help this person and in turn, she would be strengthened and uplifted. I also got to talk to her about when Papa passed away and how going to church and making friends really helped Grandma to not feel so alone. It was the day after the anniversary of Papa's passing. It was a really amazing experience as I could almost tangibly feel Carol's husband Fred there with us, pleading with her to go to church and be happy again. We meet with her again next week so we will see what happens.
I was called as the Music Coordinator for my Branch while I'm here. I pick all the songs and arrange all the musical numbers for all branch meetings. It's lots of fun. To my branch and district, I'm the music guru and BYU Sports Girl. No lie. I've responded to these names haha. 

Other things I just thought of that I would like in Cali = my Converse.
My district is great. We have a really interesting group of Elders. I prefer to think of them as their best selves. When they are focused and have the spirit they are amazing! Other times, they are so dumb, but they're boys so what do I expect. We just have to get them to that best self, their Elder self, and away from their regular boy self haha.
My favorite Elder is from the Seattle area. His parents are from England and are divorced (the England part is relevant because he has an accent. It comes and goes because he's American, but he learned to talk around his parents who were British so it's really fun) He was like an amazing baseball player in high school and he got offered a full ride to several different schools to play baseball. He played for a year or two because he wanted to go to the major league (he's a pitcher and threw over 90 mph yikes!) but then he broke his hand and when he wasn't playing started really thinking about his life and what he was doing. He realized he needed to go on a mission, so here he is! He is the closest to being his best self all the time, and a little more mature, so that's probably another reason he is my favorite. The Elders in my district are going to Las Vegas West Mission and one to the Denver South Mission. We really love them, even though they get on our nerves sometimes. 

Ok, I have to go. Times up. This church is true! Being a missionary is the best thing ever. I know that we have to have the Spirit with us if we want to teach the gospel, because we aren't the ones really teaching. I love y'all!
Sister Burchett,
PS the Dear Elders are great. (Free email service that prints your email messages and delivers them to MTC) I love getting them and they come the same day or the day after. Thanks for the mail. Also got mail from Sister Johnson and the YW. Fun! Got a letter from Uncle Mike, and Erin too. Got to write them back today! Going to the temple this afternoon.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

I'm Alive!

After almost a week of no word, some of us were beginning to wonder if she'd been kidnapped out of the MTC and were making plans to rescue her. Finally we got this letter that explained it all, enjoy! 

italic print is additional explanation                                                   
 Received in the mail on Jan. 7, 2013

Hello All!
My P-days (preparation day) aren’t till Thursdays and this week since we just got here we don’t have one so I won’t get to email until Thursday next week so the 11th? (I think)

We are the last group on the old program. (at the Oct. General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the age requirements for serving missions were changed. Young Men may now serve at 18 and Young Women may serve at 19. Later they announced that they would be cutting the time spent at the Missionary Training Center by 1/3, Sarah’s group is there the full time.) So we are here till the 22nd. Longer than ALL of us thought. But it is ok. The people are nice and the food is good.

My companion’s name is Sister Jackson. She’s from Herriman, Utah and goes to the University of Utah. I know I should hate her because she is a Ute, but I really like her. (Brigham Young University and the University of Utah are huge rivals) Also, her brother is deaf so we can sign to each other. Fun!

Our roommates are Sister Ward and Sister Kim. They’re also going to Sacramento. We have a lot of fun! They’re both hysterical so we’re always laughing.

The MTC is a cool place. Right now at the end of the first day. We’re all convinced we’ll never know our way around, but I’m sure we’ll figure it out.

Today we just did orientation stuff. Met our district and zone leaders, and had a teaching experience. My district is us four ladies and then 8 Elders who are all going to Las Vegas west, minus Elder Riley who’s going to Denver. They’re all very nice, but total babies! I had forgotten what it’s like to be surrounded by 18-19 year old boys. They’re silly and immature, but they love the gospel and provide entertainment.(:

The teaching experience was a cool thing where we observed missionaries teaching an “investigator” (volunteers who play a part) and then we got to take over as a group and help teach. It was great learning how to approach gospel teaching. Sis. Jackson and I got asked to do the door approach on the last one. Basically we just knocked and got them to let us in, and then the group taught again. It was cool to do that while wearing our tags and feeling like “real missionaries.” (I’m wearing my nametag and moose pajamas right now by the way. They go surprisingly well together.)

It’s freeing cold outside but luckily we only have to be outside to walk to and from buildings.

We’ll see what happens this week. The gospel is true. Without it being so, no sane person would let us in their house.

Love Y’all!

Sister Burchett

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Burchett's Tale, Day 1

(Sarah at MTC, Provo Utah)

(Sarah and Lisa Isaacson,
Roommate for the last 2 yrs)
(Sarah and Kent Isaacson,
affectionately termed Kentipoopi)
     Today, January 2nd, Sarah reported to the MTC (Missionary Training Center). She was accompanied by the Isaacson Family and is so excited to officially start her mission!
     Just to clear up a few things real quick.
(Left to Right~
Julie, Sarah, Lisa, Kent)
     While on a mission it's true that communication is limited. However, once a week all missionaries have a preparation day (P-day) which is where they...get a few hours off, so to speak. This is when they also have to email the Mission leaders with their report of the week. During this time the missionary is encouraged to send an email home to their family. Missionaries can also write and receive letters at any time during the mission. Unfortunately, they are usually too busy to respond to each individual letter personally, but they LOVE to receive mail anyways. Lastly, they are permitted on Mother's Day and Christmas to call home, or Skype if they are close enough to a computer that is set up with that technology.
     We should be hearing from Sarah once a week through email and we already have a countdown to Mother's Day when we will get to hear her beautiful voice again!

(The Journey Begins!)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Day Zero

(Sarah at Home on the Farm)

(Sarah and her brother James, 11yrs)
(James dragging Sarah back to the car)
          It was a bittersweet morning as we drove Sarah to the Airport today. After taking pictures outside the house we were able to have one last family prayer together before setting off. The ride there was a special time for our family. We turned off the radio and the distractions of the world and were able to focus on each other. The hour and a half drive passed in an instant and before we knew it we were dropping her off. Before getting out she said goodbye to our special needs brother John who despite the many "threats" of canceling not only her mission but BYU as well, told her that he would see her in two weeks.
          Climbing out of the car we all had the opportunity to give her one last hug. James was the first to hug her and after holding her for a few minutes, attempted to drag her back into the car. Amongst the laughter from his attempt, the rest of us said our goodbyes before reluctantly letting her go. Tears were plentiful, but our hearts were full and we are comforted to know that this will be great for her and that she is where the Lord needs her to be. She will stay tonight with one of her dear friends in Utah and will then report to the MTC (Missionary Training Center) bright and early tomorrow January 2, 2013.

(Sarah and her parents)
(Sarah and her sister Bridie, 16yrs)