[S14E2] Christmas is over

4: Christmas the last This Christmas was kinda weird, because I was thinking the whole time; This is my last one. That was really weird. It was good though, we had fun, and we all got some great presents. I got plenty of gift cards and socks. Thanks everyone I really do appreciate it!

3: How did our car not get stolen? As we came out of Walmart with our groceries, Elder Horne started to feel around in his pockets for the keys. He couldn’t find them, so he started looking through his groceries to see if he might have dropped them in there. Nope.avi, nothing was there. Starting to get worried, we quickened our pace to the car. Maybe he left them in the car? We talked to the sisters just before we went in, so maybe we just forgot? Approaching the Silver Corolla we saw that the headlights were on, and it was sitting there, humming. We had left the keys in the ignition, and the car running!! Sometimes the Lord protects us and our belongings, even if we don’t deserve it because we are dumb. 

2: Dear the MORMONS Is what we saw when we walked up to a door of a lady we’re trying to teach. A small envelope taped onto her door sent our minds immediately to the worst. When we took it down, we read a really pleasant note from Cheyanne, saying she was sorry that she couldn’t meet with us that Thursday because she was having Christmas with her family. Lesson learned, don’t immediately assume the worst. 

1: Splits with the Zone Leaders!  The zone leaders had double booked themselves, and so needed our help with their lessons. It was fun spending an hour or so with Elder Romriel. When we went back to their apartment I saw a flag crumpled up in the closet. Pulling it out, I saw that it was an American flag! I got kinda upset at the disrespect that previous missionaries showed it. So I took it out, ironed out the creases, and hung it up for them. Feels good man. Oh, tangentially related I saw a book at Costco that was the Constitution and all the Amendments! I was so excited, mainly because we got a gift card from a member this Christmas! But when we came back they were all sold out! I mean, nice! So I asked a lady where I could get one, and she said online. So I’m going to do that now!

Ya Boi,

Elder James Berky

A cool bird house
Our Christmas Zone
A neat place to take a pic
One Rainy Christmas Eve!

AZ Christmas Trip

Upsidedown king Ammon at the Tournament of Kings dinner and jousting show at Excalibur in Las Vegas
Stopped at a 60’s Diner on Route 66. Anthony eating a 3lb burger.
Stopped at a gas station with a curiously appropriate name
Dad, Ammon and Jacob at the Blue Man group show at the Luxor in Las Vegas

[S14E1] Merry Christmas! The roads dont make any sense!

Is what I’ve gathered from my first couple of hours in the city of Roseburg. I’m not going to take super long since the first week is super wack, and we’re going into Christmas week things get crazy.

3: Elder Horne! Is from Colorado(exotic, I know) and has been out just a few transfers less than me. We get along just fine, he speaks his mind sometimes a little too often though lol. I’m looking forward to working hard with him and having a good time. 

2: Holy baptisms Batman! In this last weekend I’ve been to 3 baptisms and have missed one. This zone is doing great! We have someone on date for baptism, only problem is it’s a little far out (August) but we’ll see if we can’t move that up. I love the Spirit that accompanies a baptism, how you know in your heart of hearts that it is just right. Funny how the light of Christ works that way. 

1: The true meaning of Christmas Gets missed pretty often. I don’t just mean that people focus on the presents more than they do the birth of Christ, but people also get more wrapped up with the beautiful tale told in Luke 2. I love the story of Christmas, but often we think mainly of the newborn messiah, rather than why he was born. I can’t remember if I’ve shared this before, but many many parts of the Christmas story reflect on Christs mission on earth. Starting with the swaddling clothes, I always assumed and was told that they were just blankets, long strips of cloth to wrap babies in. Little did I know that using swaddling clothes wasn’t typical for newborn babies, but for lambs. Not just any lambs mind you, but pure, white unblemished ones. Lambs that would be used for sacrificial purposes, in similitude of the one who would also be wrapped in the same clothes they were. The shepherds who came, and testified of the newborn King of the Jews weren’t just any old shepherds, but ones who had  a priestly duty. They were to take the pure lambs, and protect them, making sure they remained ready for the purpose for which they were born. When these holy shepherds saw the child bound in the strips of cloth that held so much meaning for them they would have known immediately who this was. The lamb of God, their Saviour. Knowing this has brought so much more meaning to the tale that I thought I was so familiar with. I have loved reading through the scriptures and learning about the real people who were going through their lives, not knowing how it would be recorded and read millennia into the future. Merry Christmas, and may you all remember the baby dressed in the same way as a lamb. May you all remember how he was sacrificed for us. How that is why we are able to have the joy this season.

Ya boi,

Elder James Berky 

[S13E6] How’s Roseburg this time of year?

Yep, I’m getting transferred. On one hand I’m excited cause I’ve been in Klamath for a while, but on the other, Christmas is in like 2 weeks. Kinda hoping to stay for the Holidays, but oh well.

4: Sporadic Snow! We have been getting very random and not long lasting snowfall. It isn’t really a white Christmas, just kinda brown.

3: Saying Good bye! It’s been kinda weird going around and saying goodbye to some of the people in the ward. Unfortunately some of them didn’t answer, and the other elders will have to tell them I said bye.

2: Christmas Caroling! You know what’s fun? Christmas Caroling as a zone! Visiting people that we’re working with, letting them know that we care for them, it’s great. You know what’s not fun? Going to someone’s place and they’re moving lots of stuff and their neighbors are having a domestic incident on the front lawn. That was crazy.

1: Let’s have a fun time. In our down time Elder Randall and I have been playing a very loose version of Dungeons and Dragons. It’s a lot of fun, and we’ve been doing recordings of them as we play. It’s been good to keep his mind off of him going home and the girl problems he’s been having. Poor guy.

As I’ve been going about this week I’ve thought about what presents to get my companions. They aren’t the biggest, most expensive presents, but they’re thoughtful ones. Ones that I’ve spent time thinking about. That is the same way that we should think about Christmas and Jesus Christ. We can’t get him a physical pair of shoes or something, cause he doesn’t really need them. (I’m sure he has the best pair of Vans that ever did exist) and I’m not sure if USPS delivers to the Celestial Kingdom. But what we can do for Christ this Christmas is show that we do think about him, and care for him. Read your scriptures, be it Luke 2 the Christmas story, the Old Testament which foretells his birth, or the tale of the believers who were saved by the sign of the Messianic babe’s Birth in the Book of Mormon. That is something that is immeasurable in the eyes of God and his Son. Merry Christmas, watch the Christmas story for me, cause I don’t think that our mission President will approve that one. Hopefully we can watch Polar Express, or Muppet’s Christmas Carol!

Ya Boi

Elder James Berky

Here’s my new apartment, if you have a box of Chocolates, a package, just want to send Domino’s over, or SWAT me, whatever works for ya.

#### NW Edenbower Blvd Apt ## Roseburg  OR 97471

[S13E4] Then sings my soul!

This has been quite the musical week, let me tell you about it!

5: Musical part 1 You know how I said we were practicing for zone conference? Well, so did others for our conference but we can definitively say that ours was much more musical, and practiced. I’m sorry I didn’t get a recording of the final product, but I might when we gather together for Zone P-day. If so, I’ll just send it as a follow up to this email. I love singing.

5.1: Musical part 1.1 For unto us a child is born Some of the things talked about in Zone Conference was Isaiah 9:6, and discussion about Luke 2. As we were reading that, the voice of my mother rang in my head, singing Handel’s Messiah. I couldn’t stop thinking about it during the rest of the meeting being overcome with the spirit. On our long car ride back home from Medford to Klamath I looked through my flash drive for the album that I knew I had. Earlier in the week, I also wanted to listen to it, but I couldn’t find it at all, I realize now that the Spirit wanted me to listen to it when I would appreciate it the most. Elder Randall unfortunately didn’t appreciate it as much as I did, but I’ll work on him. He will love classical by the time I’m done with him lol.

4: Musical part 2: Others singing is also good! Our stake put on a Christmas concert, and it was very well done. They had invited people from all over the community to sing, including this one Pentecostal pastor, who was an incredible tenor, and pretty funny. (We talked to him afterwards) It was great to invite people to, because it was disarming enough, and fun so people didn’t feel super pressured when we let them know about it. Guess what they sang? Parts from Handel’s Messiah. Yeah. Great night.

3: Music of breaking metal Well, it’s not really music, but it was loud, and is very frustrating. Our bench broke. One of the bolts that was holding it together lost it’s head, and now the bench, while standing is not something that I want to put any weight on. Super unfortunate, but we can get a better bolt from Home Depot today. No biggie, just really annoying.

2: Lots of service! We have been doing quite a bit of service for everyone in the community, be that with helping people deal with the snow, chopping wood, help them move, literally anything. It’s good to be out there, being seen and increasing people’s perception of Christ’s true church. 

1: It is time for a talk! Our bishop asked all 4 elders to give talks in sacrament. Mine was much shorter in sacrament meeting, but I took some time, and embellished it a little bit. Here ya go;

The Atonement is the most important event in history. This is an indisputable fact. So what is the Atonement? It is the event recorded in Mathew 26:36-45, Mark 14:32-41, Luke 22:39-46 and one measly verse in John 18:1. I love reading over the accounts of the Atonement, I do it every week as the sacrament is being passed. There’s something incredible about having that connection between the simple ordinance we partake in and the record of the reason for this ordinance. Shifting gears for a minute here, Christ truly is the reason for the season. As Christmas approaches like a freight train our minds turn to the tradition started by the Magi, of bringing and bearing gifts. As a child the best part of Christmas is getting and opening presents under the glowing tree, but often as people mature, giving gifts brings more joy than receiving. When those wise men came and bestowed their gifts of Frankincense, Gold and Myrrh they knew it paled in comparison to the gift that child would one day bring them. The gift of the Atonement, and the remission of their sins. Let us not forget, nor suffer our close friends, our loved ones, our little ones to forget the greatest gift of all, that of freedom from spiritual bondage brought by the Messiah. The Atonement is the enabling power that has been given to all of us freely. Philippians 4:13 says “I can do all things through Christ, which strengthen me.” All those things that Paul was talking about could only be done through the Atonement. Christ truly is there while you go through trials and struggles. I am reminded of a primary song, “If the Savior stood beside me” Although the message of that song is to be more Christlike, it also cemented in my mind the reality that the Prince of Peace is with us through all our dealings. He is with us because when going through the Atonement, sweating his great drops of blood he experienced everything that we have experienced, felt all that we have felt, and knows all that we are going to go through on this great journey that life gives us. But like any present, you can talk about how pretty the wrapping is, or how useful it will be when opened, or speculate how exactly it works, it is all hot air. Unless you open up that present, see what was lying underneath the thin decoration and totally appreciate what you have been given. We can appreciate the gift of the Messiah through repentance. As Alma the younger teaches in Alma 36:12-24, repentance although initially scary brings complete and utter JOY! Is that not what we want in this life? Joy? My favorite part of that scripture is 19&20;  “And now, behold, when I thought this, 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 what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!” As deep and horrible our sins and experiences were, so they will be flipped, completely inverted by Jesus. There must be a repentance process undergone first, but the first step seems difficult and scary, but is honestly rather easy. Alma said he “Remembered the words of his father” and he cried out to the King Emmanuel he had that miraculous spiritual healing.  When others cause us harm we MUST allow them to use that same gift we are all given. It is not to us to decide who receives forgiveness, as D&C 64:10 says “I the Lord will forgive him who I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.” The Atonement is Christ’s gift to all his people, just the same way how I allowed my brothers to play with and use some of my Christmas presents, so must we allow others to use Christ’s gift.  Speaking of my Christmas presents, I am reminded of a time a while ago when I saw a big present with my name on it. Upon further inspection, I figured out that it was Legos! Truly, the greatest Christmas present. As  time went on, and Christmas day drew nearer, I found myself wondering what the Lego set could be. I imagined myself playing with a rocket ship, or a big robot with guns. Finally the day came when I could rip apart the blue and white paper that obscured my new toy. It was a Star Wars AT-TE walker! I knew it exactly, and could show you the exact scenes in which it features in the movies and shows. After thanking my parents, I pulled out the bags full of tiny pieces, making sure I didn’t lose any. Looking  at the booklets I saw that this was much more complicated than the rinky-dink airplanes my brothers and I had cobbled together in the past. I got overwhelmed, not knowing where to start. My toy was seemingly ruined because I knew not how to use it. My dad is a much smarter man than me, and although he didn’t know what exactly this Sci-Fi walker was, he did know how to read the instructions. My dad help me build this behemoth Lego tank is one of my favorite Christmas memories.  We must do the same with our friends and wayward family, who are sitting amongst piles of wrapping paper with their presents in their hands, unsure of how to use the gift that their Saviour has given them. There are many out there who teach people how nice the gift is, but not how to use it. As members of Jesus Christ’s church restored in it’s fullness, you know the Atonement works, and it is your responsibility to teach others how to properly use it. D&C 6:9 says;  “Say nothing but repentance unto this generation; keep my commandments, and assist to bring forth my work, according to my commandments, and you shall be blessed.”  This Christmas season, not only give others fun presents that they’ll enjoy for this life, but gifts they’ll thank you for eternities. Let them know how much you love them by teaching them how to use the Atonement.  I testify of these things, by the name and power of Him who descended below all things, even Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, Emmanuel, King of Kings, the Lamb of God, Amen. 

Love ya,

Ya Boi

Elder James Berky

Busy Week

(Letter to missionary Elder James Berky, by Dad)

Elder James, 

Sorry I missed your call yesterday.  LaMont and I had our heads down reviewing our Find-A-Code competitors and preparing a plan to offer three versions of FAC with some add-on products bundled in.
I have a big website face-lift that will launch in January and make the website look much more modern.  I also want to revise the search tools to combine all the different types of searchable data we have into a single set of results.

Scouts is winding down.  Tonight we are going with all the youth to see the SLC Temple lights.  Riding the train up there.  Sam is the only brother going with me.  Anthony has Christmas Concert rehearsal (I heard him and mom practicing last night – you guys should try a duet sometime – he’s also pretty good). Benjamin has a wrestling tournament and Jacob will be at swimming practice.

Last night we went to the Utah Baroque Ensemble’s Christmas Sing-a-long program.  Mom likes to go every year.  And it was nice to see some of the folks we traveled to Germany with 2 summers ago.

Tomorrow night is Pack Night where Jacob will be getting his Arrow of Light.  Then we head to Anthony’s Christmas Concert.  Thursday night I’m taking Sam to set up for the next UV Symphony concert and then on to another of Ben’s wrestling tournaments in Provo.  

Ben made the Varsity team for the 220 weight class (he’s only 195, but they already had a good wrestler in his weight class and none in the 220 class).  Yesterday he had to defend his varsity position against a guy named Carson.  They already had a varsity guy in Carson’s class also so he was challenging Ben to take Ben’s spot in the higher weight class.  But Ben beat him 7 to 4.  Ben was pretty excited when he came home because he usually loses when he wrestles Carson in practice.

Friday night is the only night this week we don’t have a family activity, although Mom is taking Jacob to SLC for a 2 day swim meet that evening.  We will all go up Saturday morning to cheer Jacob on and then Saturday night is the UV Symphony concert we’ll attend (and Sam will help take down).  Anthony may or may not be there. He started working at the new Spanish Fork Chilil’s restaurant last night training on the grill.  So he may have to work Thurs-Sat doing more training.  Busy week.  

Sunday afternoon Jacob has his Temple and Priesthood introduction meeting.  Looks like we be ordaining Jacob, Sam and Ben on January 26th when Berky grandparents are in town.  We’ll try to schedule the Eagle Court of Honor for Anthony and Ben also that weekend.

Life keeps moving forward.  We make mistakes, repent, and move forward (rinse and repeat).  Glad to hear you are having lots of opportunities to give service.  Make every day of your mission count.  You’ve only got a limited number of days left – end on a strong, high note!   <- singing/music tie in!

Love, Dad

[S13E4] (Voice recording) and Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it Snow!

4: I would call this a snowpocolypse, but almost everyone has 4-wheel drive We got about a foot of snow, which was okay for the missionaries, but it seems that even though Klamath Falls gets regular snowfall each year, everyone forgets how to drive in it! But I guess that’s the case everywhere, crazy Oregon is no exception. It’s been fun, helping push people out of snow banks, and get started on icy roads. But even we are not immune to the perils of jack frost, and this Sunday we got ourselves soundly stuck in a ditch. Everything was fine, we got out with the help of some members who we called, but it gave us even more reason to call our Vehicle Coordinator and request some new tires. Those guys are as bald as Patrick Stewart!

3: Get in the Christmas Spirit! Looking in one of the storage closets, we found a bunch of Christmas stuff. Being only a day or two before Thanksgiving we decided to set as much us as we could bear! Which was a tree, some lights and a couple of stockings taped above our heater. Santa’s better have his HVAC knowledge up to date to get in! 🙂

2: Thanksgiving! Was good, shoveled people’s driveways, a guy that the 5th ward Elders are working with, and then some older Italians who really couldn’t do it themselves. It was great, they were super appreciative. After that we headed back, showered, got dressed and headed to dinner with some members. They gave us a couple boxes of Krispy Kreme Donuts, because they had ordered 327 dozen and could spare a few (It was for a granddaughter’s fundraiser) After the great Thanksgiving dinner  we had desert with some more members! I was so stuffed at the end of that night, we all slept soundly. 

1: Our singing is finally up to snuff! We are going to be singing “What Child is This” for our Zone conference this week, and we’ve been practicing for the past couple of weeks. Finally our choir teacher (Sister Cosper) said that we did good on our first try! I typically forget about how much I love singing and music, until I get a chance to practice the talents that the Lord has given me. Then do I remember how good it feels to make music. I think I have an audio recording of one of our practice sessions somewhere, I’ll have to find it.yeah, I found it, and it is pretty obvious that it is an early recording. I promise we sound better than what it is, and I’ll get a recording of the actual performance. 

I love you all, I love the Savior and the various ways he speaks to us. Be it Miracles, the Holy Ghost, Music, Prophets, etc. All we have to do is open our eyes and see those messages he gives us.

Ya boi,

Elder James Berky