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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Monday, January 20, 2014

Sacramento - Week 50

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).

“We Need Rain!”
January 7, 2014

Howdy folks! 
Well, since we just emailed on Thursday, I don't feel like I have that much to share! I will share a fun bit of LDS History with you that I learned today (and if my facts are scrambled, I freely apologize and admit I did not take notes because I was playing with a puppy so this is pure memory bank going here) and some thoughts I had about all of it. If you aren't in the mood for a history lesson you can skip to the bold print :) 
Sister Ward and I just got back from....Mormon Island! Well, technically from Red Bank because Mormon Island is still underwater, but let me back up and explain. My fantastic "California Family", the Doolittle’s, took us out to Folsom lake. Sister Doolittle and Christopher Robin are living history missionaries. They act as docents and wear period dress and share history about the famous church sites in the area. Basically, they go out and have a lot of fun with history. Ask me if I'm a little bit jealous in the most righteous way? Most definitely. Things like this are a playground for history nerds like me. 
Why, you might ask, were we at a lake, seeing as missionaries aren't allowed on or in the water? Well, the water's all gone! We are in the middle of a terrible, awful, drought here in Northern California. The lake here in Folsom is so dry that the remains of the old settlements are being uncovered as the water recedes. The area was flooded when a dam was built in 1955. A news crew (my people!) did a story on the uncovered settlement and now people from all over are flocking to explore. So, what is Mormon Island? 
For those of you that don't know, the LDS church had a very big part in the settlement of Northern California and in the Gold Rush. The saints were newly settled in Utah, and the prophet Brigham Young told members of the Church in California, many of them who arrived with the Mormon Battalion, to stay and work in California to earn money to help support the members in Salt Lake. Mormons were present when gold was found at Sutter's Mill. We learn the exact date gold was found from their journals! (If anyone just felt the guilty pangs of bad journal keeping, don't worry. You're not alone in that canoe. We'll paddle along together.) 

Mormon Island was a settlement of these Californian Saints. Because of its location where many rivers intersect, gold was everywhere! These men and women were striking it rich! They built a thriving town with stagecoaches running from Sacramento and were prospering when the prophet called them back to Utah. In the words of Sister Doolittle, "They left for something more precious than gold. They left to return to their families."
Mormon Island was taken over by a lot of not-so-Mormon settlers. The settlement itself eventually burnt to the ground. With the receding waters, today we can see the remains of Red Bank which was like a suburb to Mormon Island, the outskirts of town. Downtown Mormon Island is still under about 70ft of water. 
It was so amazing to see the things that people were finding! You could still see some of the old foundations of buildings, roads, and trenches. It was amazing to think about the people who lived and loved there so many years ago. With Christopher Robin dressed in buckskin garbs and Sister Doolittle dressed from bonnet to petticoats, it was so fun to see the people gather around to learn about the past. Brother Doolittle even stopped by for a few minutes and we got to catch up. 

So, I had this surreal moment as I stood there listening, surrounded by so many people that I love. I looked out across the lake, which looks so small compared to what it normally is, out across the hills and the remnants of this community, and I thought about how fragile, precious, and short our lives really are. We are given this one brief moment here on earth. We come here to learn and grow and to take it one day at a time, not knowing what lies ahead. Everything we have ever known can change in an instant. I thought about all those people. As they played and laughed and worked and built homes, I bet they never thought that one day all that would be left of their life would be some stones, a few nails, some broken pieces of porcelain. It puts in perspective what matters most, and how we really need to live in the moment. What is truly precious to us? Is it possessions or people? Is it worth putting off time spent together today until a tomorrow that could never come? 

Every moment, every instant can be made precious, can be made sacred. Through our interactions with the people we love, everyday places can become holy ground. We can't foresee the future. We can only plan for it, and then live in the present. The Lord works in mysterious ways, and faith in Him means faith in His timing. Luckily for us, God is perfect in every way. His timing is perfect, and His plan is unique and personal for each of us. Sometimes, in His infinite wisdom He sends storm cloud our way. We feel like the storm is breaking us down, but really He is building us up into what He wants us to be, what we NEED to be. There's a song that has become one of my favorites called, "Rock and Redeemer" by The Browns and one of the verses says:
I see storm clouds in the distance
I hear thunder on the way
But I don't fear the weather coming 
Cause I know to the master this is just another day 

When I need a shelter
He's my Rock and Redeemer
He's my hope and my healer 
I can run to Him
Let the wind start blowing 
I am safe in His keeping 
He's my Rock and Redeemer 
He's my everything
Isn't it comforting to know that through the storms of life, we have a captain at the helm who knows exactly how to navigate and can say, in His time, "Peace, be still". 

So love living life today and every day! Press forward with faith and learn to love the storm clouds in the distance. When God sends us storm clouds, it's because we need the rain! 


Sister Burchett

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