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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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Sacramento - Week 46

Due to the new security measures requested by the Mission leaders, the names of all investigators and people that Sarah comes into contact with will be replaced with the name of a well-known character from a children’s movie. This will keep the identities of people safe as well as make it easier to keep everyone straight. The name given is in NO WAY intended to reflect the personality, looks, or circumstances of the individual(s).

“And Now For an Original Christmas Song or Two”
December 9, 2013

In the tradition of the holidays and because I am myself and come up with quirky things like this, we proudly present "I'll Skype Home for Christmas" (to the tune of I'll Be Home for Christmas):

I'll Skype home for Christmas
You can count on that
Gather the kids, the relatives, the doggies, and the cats, 
Christmas Eve will find me, 
In the Sac-town sun, 
But I'll Skype home for Christmas
And we'll have lots of fun!

I'll Skype home for Christmas
Prepare to see my face
It's like I'm there, except I'm here, in a different place, 
Christmas day will find me, 
In a member's home, 
Don't worry 'bout this Christmas
Cause I won't be alone. 

I'll Skype home for Christmas
Promise me, no tears, 
Just be glad, that I'm a girl, I could be gone 2 years, 
I only miss one Christmas 
Please do not be sad
I'll serve the Lord this Christmas 
This year I wear a badge....

(Refrain) It's a missionary Christmas
The best I'll ever have!

So hopefully that brought a laugh or two or seven and yes, it is the Christmas season, and yes I WILL talk to you soon. I can't believe that Christmas is already upon us, but I am so happy that it is here! I love the Christmas season because of the Spirit of Christmas which is really the Spirit of Christ. All the wonders of the season turn my thought to our Savior, to the remarkable gift that our Heavenly Father has given us of His son. I can't begin to comprehend the love that made the atonement of Jesus Christ possible. You have the love our Heavenly Father, allowing His Only Begotten to suffer in agony and pain and thereby putting Himself, the perfect Father, through sorrow as well. What Father doesn't want to protect and shield their children from hurt?
Surely so did our Heavenly Father, but He , being perfect, had a perfect knowledge of what must occur to satisfy the demands of justice so that He could show the rest of us imperfect children mercy. Then we have the love of our brother, Jesus Christ, who willingly offered Himself as a sacrifice. I can't start to number all the pains, sicknesses, sins, and sorrows in my life that He suffered for me alone. Now multiply that by every person who has ever lived upon the earth. He experienced everything. Not a single person was left out, excluded, forgotten. Every sheep was numbered, known, and loved. 
When I think of Christmas, I also think of the love of Joseph and Mary.
Joseph, who had to have the faith to believe that Mary WAS the mother of the Messiah. Can you imagine the moment when Joseph held the newborn baby Jesus in his arms and realized with all the pressure of a new father that he had been chosen to raise in righteousness the Savior of the World? The moment when He knew that this child was not his own, but Almighty God's, and still was entrusted to his keeping and care?
I think of Mary. She held her Savior in her arms in the form of her firstborn son. She felt all the love of a new mother, and all the awe of child of God who had looked forward to the coming of the promised Messiah, and here He was, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger because there was no room for Him, the King of Kings, in all the inns of Bethlehem.
Mary and Joseph would watch in awe as Jesus grew from infant to boyhood to manhood and grew in the knowledge of His calling as Savior and Redeemer. Mary would watch as He was lifted up on the cross, maybe not fully comprehending that the gut wrenching anguish she was feeling, her son had experienced in the garden. Have you ever thought what thoughts may have crossed the Savior's mind as He looked down from the cross knowing the torment His mother was feeling? Perhaps this is what He reflected on as He said to her, pointing to John, "Woman, behold thy son". He loved her and wanted her to continue to be loved and cared for after He was gone. 

I could go on and on! Think of the love of the shepherds, the wise men, Mary and Martha, Lazarus, the apostles, every disciple, and every person that was healed or witnessed His miracles. The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of Christ, and the spirit of Christ is the spirit of love. He commands us "As I have loved you, love one another." 
We witnessed the most beautiful Christmas miracle yesterday. We have been working with a less active man named Ratatouille. For the longest time, nobody could get in to see him. Then, finally, the sister missionaries got him to answer his door. Since then it has been nobody but us who could see him. He always says he feels the love and support and he knows he needs to come back to church, but he never moves forward. We could tell that what he was really lacking was faith that he could return, that the Savior really wanted Him back that he COULD repent and be welcomed home. Yesterday, we had an appointment with Ratatouille, and he agreed to let us bring our High Priest's Group Leader and his wife along with us. We had a marvelous visit, and Ratatouille seemed happier than he had in a long time. We committed him to watch the Christmas Devotional. After the devotional, we received this text message from Ratatouille: 
"I watched the Christmas devotional at 5pm and I was so touched by the Spirit that the tears just keep flowing. Additionally I feel so loved and cared for by you wonderful missionaries. I haven't felt the spirit of the Lord like this for many months, if not years. Thank you for blessing my life. You brought the Spirit of the Lord into my home today. I will be forever grateful for that. I'm just so full of tears. I know the Lord has the power to heal."
When I read that message, my heart was filled with such love and gratitude. Love for Roger and for the Savior and our Heavenly Father. Gratitude for the power of the Spirit and the chance to serve as an instrument. I said a prayer of thanks and hopefully, we'll see Ratatouille at church on Sunday. 
We had another neat miracle yesterday at church. I noticed two college aged girls walk in at the back of the chapel in jeans and t-shirts. I introduced myself and invited them to sit with us. As we talked, I learned that they had an assignment from their anthropology class to visit a church and write about their experience. We got to answer so many questions and convinced them to stay for Sunday School. They loved it and the members were so great and welcoming. They all testified naturally and simply and the spirit was incredibly strong. And so they stayed for Relief Society. At the end of Relief Society, one of them turned to me and said, "I always get really bad anxiety visiting new places and being in crowds, especially in churches. But I don't feel anxious at all here. It just feels nice. I like it."
I testified to her that what she was feeling was the spirit. We got their information to pass on to the YSA Elders. What started as an assignment from a college class turned into an incredible spiritual experience. May the Lord bless that anthropology professor wherever they are! 
We had another little miracle here on Saturday. It snowed. It lasted about 10 minutes and didn't stick, but snow is so rare in Folsom that we still ran outside and relished in it. 
Another miracle was at our Relief Society Christmas party. Sister Ward and I had been out delivering invitations to less actives and part-member families and several of them came! The best moment was when a sister came up to us and said, "Have you met that woman over there?"
When we said no, she said, "Well, she said she found an invitation in her door and so she came. Go introduce yourselves!"
We racked our brains to remember which houses we had left invitations in the doors of. Turns out she was a non-member from a part-member family! She had a great time and now we are going to visit her. 
Our investigator invited us to the women's Christmas party at her church, Lakeside. They are known for being pretty Anti-Mormon so we were a little nervous, but all was well and it was good PR for the missionaries. There is a great article about interfaith involvement in this month's Ensign. Look it up!
We got to give training to the quorum and class presidencies for Young Men and Young Women's on Saturday on Hastening the Work. It went so well and each class and quorum committed to have a baptism next year. That's 6 baptisms, half of our goal for the ward next year. The youth are the best missionaries in the church, and these youth can do it! All my life, I have heard leaders say "You are a chosen generation" but nobody ever says exactly what we were chosen for. Well, youth of Zion, listen up.
We aren't chosen in that we get to sit back and have everybody say how great we are and get to waltz into heaven because we were here when the Savior came.
The beautiful thing is that we can fight this fight with love. We can fight it with the spirit of Christmas - the spirit of Christ! 
I know that Christ lives. I know He loves us. I know His church is here on the earth today. I know He will come again. He came first as a baby in Bethlehem. He will come again in glory and majesty, the resurrected Lord and Savior of mankind. 
Have a wonderful week!

And now I'll send you off with an original rendition of a "Sacramento California Missionary's Silent Night":
Silent Night, 
Holy Night, 
All is calm, 
As we bike, 
In Texas and Idaho the weather is wild, 
But here in Cali it's really quite mild, 
As we bring God's children His peace, 
Bring God's children His peace. 


Sister Burchett

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