Thursday, July 31, 2008

Twenty six wonderful years!

Twenty six years ago I knelt across the altar in the Los Angeles temple and gave myself to a wonderful man for eternity. I was 18. Many say that at 18 you are not mature enough to make such a commitment and I'm not sure I would recommend it for everyone. I definitely was not polished and refined at 18 but I knew a good man when I saw one and we were both willing to work together. Now 26 years, five children, a daughter and son in law and one grandbaby later we are still working, playing and rejoicing together. This wonderful man has brought me more joy and more growth than would have been possible on my own. Twenty six years ago I was not searching for a husband - I was going to get my degree and go on a mission - but Heavenly Father had other plans for me - and Mark was praying to find the right person for him for which I will be eternally greatful. Last year he took me back to the place we decided we should get married - the bridge from the BYU law school to the Wilkinson Center. Twenty six years ago there was no formal proposal - just a wonderful discussion about the possibilities and a mutual agreement that this life and what lies beyond is an adventure we wanted to embark on together. Last year he took his unsuspecting bride of 25 years back to that bridge and dropped to his knee and officially proposed. He also gave me the ring he had wanted to give me way back then but couldn't afford - with a place for my original diamond. The answer would have been YES, had I been able to speak at that moment...

I love you and look forward to the next 26 years and beyond!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Another week, another letter

What a week! How is everyone? Thank you all for your letters, really made my week. Wow, we had a good week! We had 30 lessons and 15 new investigators. My planner has never been so booked! The language is really progressed too, I can understand 90% of just about everything. The talking is the difficult part. I have a sataque forte (strong accent), is what Tiago (James) told me on the way home from church. We were blessed to have 6 investigators accompany us to church yesterday and there is a lot more potential. I am very excited.
We had a really interesting experience this week. We were teaching a family, of lets say 6, and then two relatives were there also. The lesson couldn't have gone better(except for my sataque and my inability to speak for longer that 6 or 7 minutes). Then at the end of the lesson we were forwarding our convites(I don't remember the word in English) and the father Carlos was really livid. He agreed with the whole lesson; Christ established his Church with 12 apostles, 1 profeta and authoridade de Deus(did that on purpose), he recognized we have a living profet and 12 apostalos today, he even commented that we were truly representatives of Christ! But when we asked; after you pray and receive a response that Christ's church has been established once again on the earth will you follow that answer and become part of the church. I could see the gear of thought twitch in his eye, as if a different spirit entered his body. Then he began to say that it is all just words and that we are all just on the same boat searching for our own guidance. An alarm went off in my head and we asked once again, "If you recieve a response from your prayer, specifically asking if Christ's church has been established once more on the earth will you follow your response?" I realize now how powerful the adversary is and how real apostasy is. Apostasy is in full bloom here and I can feel the heat coming. It's really sad, but, when we were leaving I asked him, who was the only one that could answer his prayers, Deus(God), he told me. Then I said, pray! Carlos and his wife, Vanda, asked us not to return but I think the spirit touched the hearts of a few of the kids there. I hope Carlos and Vanda can soften their hearts and see the apostasy that is in such a bactierious (I think I made up a word) growth here. But anyways, be careful, Diabo is real and he is fighting for your and my souls. The way we can prevent our hearts and minds from wandering off is to; read the scriptures, ponder, pray, work, think, plan, exercise(faith and bodies), sing, come on be creative, have fun, discover, learn, BUT, sempre rely on the Lord!

Thank you all so much for your letters, sorry I don't have time to write everyone individually, until next week.

Amor do Brasil
Elder Robbie

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Three in one

OK, So maybe it's not Friday but here are some flashbacks and a few thoughts that turned out to be less random than I thought. July 25th marks a year since our wonderful dog Thunder passed away. I know many of you may not be dog people but he was part of the family. I brought him home as a stray in Oklahoma when he was five months old. A neighbor had seen him tossed out of a van in our neighborhood and was going to take him to the pound. It was a great blessing for all involved - truly a tender mercy. I miss running with him. What a patient and kind dog - and very protective of our family - and of Lucy, the puppy in the picture. We miss you Thunder... and Lucy too.

Another flashback...

When we lived in Tucson I was driving with the kids one day and the sun came through the clouds just like in this picture. Robbie, who was probably 4, looked up and asked, "Mom, is Jesus coming today?" I could only smile and respond, "Not today but one of these days it will be the day."

Today was another awesome bike race. It was the state road race in Coalville. You will have to go to Christian's photo blog to see the pictures. It was a hot day and a long hilly race with a large field. Good racers were dropping off the back cramping and just not able to keep up. Mark rode his heart out and got third - we are so proud! When we got home I got an email that Randy Pausch passed away. Maybe because he is a professor near to Mark's age it really hit me how blessed we are to have been at a bike race today instead of planning a funeral. How blessed my children and granddaughter have been to have a wonderful father so involved in their lives. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and close friends. I guess it was his day to meet Jesus. A day that will come for all of us at some point. The big question is the one Randy often asked - how will we live today?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Need a smile?

Check out the Dancing around the world video on this site

It was on Astronomy picture of the day today with this caption.
" Explanation: What are these humans doing? Dancing. Many humans on Earth exhibit periods of happiness, and one method of displaying happiness is dancing. Happiness and dancing transcend political boundaries and occur in practically every human society. Above, Matt Harding traveled through many nations on Earth, started dancing, and filmed the result. The video is perhaps a dramatic example that humans from all over planet Earth feel a common bond as part of a single species. Happiness is frequently contagious -- few people are able to watch the above video without smiling."

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

No Bull... keeping Elder Z from his email

Picture at right - "Showed them a few tricks and then shared with them the best message in the world!"
Muitíssimo obrigado pelas tuas orações!(Thank you very much for your prayers!) I am doing better than ever! My new companions name is Elder Rodrigues, and he is district leader. I am secretary, I don't know what that means yet but I don't think that will be a problem. He is from Fortaleza and he is 21. He entered the mission field very similar to me, and we are already really good friends. He is a really powerful missionary; he isn't strict, he doesn't boss me around, he is always helping me and I haven't seen him on a bad day yet(knock on wood). The funny thing is, he doesn't seem like he would be an extremely good missionary, he goes to bed at like 12 o' clock at the earliest doesn't really do much studying. But I know he must have, he has scriptures memorized, his lessons always have a different element, but most important he really pays attention to the spirit. One thing about him that bothers me a little is he is a bit of a neat freak. Ok, understatement, have you guys ever seen monk? Yeah, he's a neat freak! We spent our whole first day cleaning the house, ok, totally reorganizing the house. I am pretty sure it has never had a going over like we gave it. Two or three more hours and still we are cleaning it, it's a bit out there, but I don't mind it because the spirit can't dwell in a dirty house. Neither can I, because of my alergies. Ok, are you ready for the bad news? I think he is only staying for one transfer! I can't believe it, it's really lame. I'm guessing I will get a shot missionary next that I will need to whip into shape or something. But, if anyone can prepare me, it's Elder Rodrigues.
Elder Rodrigues arrived Wednesday, then we cleaned the house Thursday. Then we had two really sucessful days on Friday and Saturday. We had 12 lessons and 15 new investigators, and our investigators seem really good. But, we decided we will start our missionary work as a companionship this upcoming week; dedicate our house, study more dilligently and hopefully work like mad. I am very excited for this upcoming week. I hope I get my package soon too, I am way too excited! But I am guessing it will be a few weeks. By the way, I have had the spirit touch my heart from your prayers and I am sincerely grateful!! (picture on bottom - Elder Z and Elder Rodrigues on P-day.)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Capitol Reef Classic

OK, it's 3:28 and no letter yet from our fearless gaucho elder in Brazil. So instead of worrying that he was gored by a runaway bull I will tell you about our weekend.

Christian left Wednesday evening for a river rafting trip with the scouts and Thursday morning Jen, Mark and I made our way to the city of Torrey Utah for the first ever Capitol Reef Classic bike race. We met up with team members, did the appropriate carbo loading and were ready for the races to begin Friday morning. When we got up there was the most beautiful sunrise right off our balcony. First event was a time trial. Racers leave at 30 second intervals and ride against the clock for 8 miles. Mark won his division. Wooo hooo! That afternoon in the heat of the day, after eating and resting a little, there was a circuit race. They rode a 17.5 mile loop two times. It was a beautiful course and as Jenn and I drove support, she took some great pictures. Mark and teammates did very well in this one too. Back to the room, shower, eat, rest, amazing sunset... on to the next day.

Saturday was the road race. Eighty five miles up to Fish Lake and back to Torrey. There were some hard steep climbs - 8 - 9% to be exact! Just what Mark loves. It was a hot grueling day and the competition just couldn't hang on. Mark came away with a first in the road race and overall. Congrats! Pretty good for the first stage race that he was able to finish! (Most stage races include a Sunday race).

Christian had a blast but came back with over a hundred mosquito bites on his hands alone! No pictures of that.... but here are some images from the race:

Friday, July 18, 2008

Fresh Cut Grass and mud pizza's

The smell of newly cut grass always reminds me of Saturday trips to my Grandma Burton's with my dad when I was around 10. This is my Grandpa and Grandma Burton Christmas of 1972. My Grandpa died in April of '73. After that my dad made regular Saturday trips to my Grandma's house in Inglewood CA. He would cut and edge her grass, trim trees, deal with roots that were raising the sidewalk and do whatever my Grandma needed. I would play outside while my dad worked. I remember playing with a toy pigeon that could climb the wall with it's suction cup feet. My grandma would give us kids rides in the wheelbarrow. One time a man heard my grandma and dad talking and told her she had a beautiful accent and asked where she was from. I laughed inside at his ignorance - this man knew nothing, it was my other grandma who had an accent. Grandma Light was from Utah, she said things like crick (creek) and "Land Sakes!" Grandma Burton grew up in Switzerland and came to the US when she was 18 learning English after she arrived ... but I knew that's just how grandmas talked.

Grandma Burton was very proper in all that she did. She always brought cake to our house when she joined us for dinner (which is THE only proper dessert). She never drank Coke - only Pepsi. She always put her napkin on her lap and dabbed carefully at the edges of her mouth during dinner. One time Lisa and I went with my dad to her house. It was a beautiful day and we were playing outside. Lisa made a gourmet mud pizza that would fit in the palm of your hand complete with little sausages and pepperoni. My grandma came to see what we were doing. We were a little worried that we would be in trouble for playing in the mud but we told her we made a pizza and showed it to her. She asked if she could have some. Lisa handed it to her and to our utter shock she actually took a little bite! We both cried out for her to stop and told her it was made of mud! She acted shocked, turned her head and daintily spit the mud to the side with a little "ptew" sound. No wonder it didn't taste very good. We all had a good laugh.

It's interesting how a smell can bring back some much...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Today's letter

Família, Família :) Como vão? (How goes?)
All is well here in Uruguiana. Once again my testimony was fortified from the power of the spirit from the waters of baptism. The Baptism went great; Elder Silvério and I baptized a brother and sister, Mari and Gabriel. I baptized Gabriel. Teaching the principle of baptism 24/7 really has engraved in my brain how much of a miracle baptism is. Also how essential it is to apply the sacrifice of Christ in our lives. Ok, so the other day I was talking with a cousin of our investigator, Menéina. He is studying English and so I was helping him. You wouldn't believe it, it has been three months and I didn't know how to say a prayer in English! It was pretty hilarious for me. I have been speaking English my whole life and Português for 3 months. Twas really strange.
This last week was a lot of walking into the city, mailing a package, taking photos with members and investigators and getting ready for my companion to go home. We had a baptism and a few parties but I feel like this week was wasted. I'm really excited and a little anxious for my new companion and I hear he is a good missionary. His name is Elder Rodrigues. But I am excited to get a new companion and start working again. I am a little overwhelmed to show my area to my new companion. Did I tell you there used to be 4 missionaries in the area I have now. But when I arrived it was just me and Silvério and now it is just me :) Yeah, keep me in your prayers. I'm not too worried, but I am being taught a very long and tiring lesson of patience.
I'm writing cards, g2g.
Write back
Amor do Brasil
Elder Z

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Happy Birthday Mom! This post's for you (sorry I'm late!)

Last week I did my Flashback Friday post about picking peaches. (OK it was on Saturday... as least I'm making an effort) Today I will share with you .... (drum roll please) ....the rest of the story.

Summers at the Burton home meant canning. I really don't know how my mom did it - or maybe why I never got my kids to do it - maybe we didn't have the option when I was a kid .... anyway, back to the story. In our home everyone helped and it didn't seem too much like work, at least to me.

We canned peaches and apple pie filling. We made strawberry and peach freezer jam. I remember mashing the strawberries with a potato masher, making sure we left chunks of strawberries and stirring in the sugar (always less than the recipe called for) and then stirring and stirring the pectin until the timer rang. I loved peeling the peaches. After dipping them in the boiling water bath the skins just slipped off and the fruit was smooth and still had a bit of a blush sun tan on it. I loved the way you could cup the peach in your hand, slice to the pit and then with you thumb make all the slices fall off the pit. We peeled the apples by hand. We would sit in the kitchen around the garbage can and see who could peel their apple in the single longest length of peel or have contests to see who was the fastest. I remember
stirring apricot and plum jam on the stove watching for the foam to form on top. My mom would scrape the foam off the top and let us eat it - Yum? I'm not sure I would enjoy it as much today...

There was something very satisfying all year long about eating a piece of apple pie or savoring the freezer jam on ice cream or fresh bread and knowing that you had a hand in making it. I'm afraid I have not done a good job at handing down this tradition or skills to my children... Maybe we will have to do peaches this year... any takers?

Monday, July 7, 2008

In Brazil "Things Couldn't Be Better"

E aí, meu família otimo!
I wish I could write in Português. I could really tell a difference yesterday and recently when speaking Português. I am honored to know that people were fasting for me. We had a really successful week! We have two baptisms for sure this week and maybe three! "I'm so excited, and I just can't hide it I'm about to lose control and I think I like it!" It would be really funny if I lost control, because it probably would be in English and I am in Brasil. No one would understand me but that would be ok, ha. I hope you can feel my excitement! The start of this week was a little bumpy, my allergies are crazy here(but they have been better ever since I have been taking claritin every day). We went on splits after our district meeting and my companion never warned me. So I ended up working in the city after district meeting and really loving it. But, then I went without shower, sleeping in a quatamalins bed, and then wearing the same cloths the next day. Luckily, I was prompted by the spirit to bring 6 reals with me so I could buy lunch. I really enjoyed the day working with an American in the city, it was quite a different experience. He ate breakfast, lunch and dinner. Which is different than my companion. Normally, I am paying a little extra of my money to buy enough groceries and end up sharing a lot. Which after conversing with him, I found out he usually buys all the groceries. We also started the day excercised in the morning, which was awesome, and another thing I usually do sozinho (opa, alone). But anyways, the next day we had interviews with presidente in the city central and we swapt back comps and I must have smelt horrible! I feel a lot better knowing I am not the only one that eats like a rich American though. I have a smoothie and hoffinpoffle for breakfast most mornings and have given up on cereal because it is too expensive. Getting to the point now. After working in the city with Elder Mellor, I was totally pumped to work and really kicked it in gear. I was the one setting the pace when we were walking, I told him we couldn't spend too much time at the houses of members and I even cut some of our investigators who weren't making progress! I really feel like my hard work paid off, we have 6 new investigators that seem really ready for the gospel, and I have become a totally different missionary.
Yesterday, was my first fast and testimony meeting in the field. I love fasting! It is such a special opportunity for us to feel the spirit much stronger in our lives and dedicate our attention to a certain thing. I think that the spirit when fasting is about as close as we can come to the spirit in the temple. Yesterday, I was planning on going up and bearing my testimony and it was really strange, I wasn't nervous at all. We were sitting in with our investigators who are going to be baptized this Saturday, Mari and Gabriel, and Mari made a motion for my companion to go up and bear his testimony. Then he looked at me and forwarded the motion. So, I looked at her and shrugged, ok. So I stood up with the Book of Mormon in my hand and anything I had prepared to say about the tree of life and us needing to hold fast to the iron rod left my train of thought and I bore a totally different testimony. Its funny how the spirit works. It is just like Elder Bednar said, "After we exercise our faith, the strength will come, but, the power won't come for us, it will come for those we can help." As much as I wanted to call my ward to repentance and tell them they need to come to church every Sunday and invite their less active members friends, different words came. It was really cool though, because shouting doesn't work, the spirit is a still small voice. But, I know that through my quiet testimony and through the power of the holy spirit their hearts were touched. Now, it is up to them to be true to their convictions and become more active and invite their friends. That is what I was fasting for, more activity in my ward. We had about 40 people there. The most since I have been here, including two less active members we have been working on. We were really blessed yesterday.

The dialect is really coming, I am not sure if anyone in Portugal could understand me but I think I will make a fine Gaúcho. I hope I can make a difference in my ward, I am really trying.
We had a experience in sacrament that reminded me how immature I am. No one plays the piano in our sacrament and no one knew the hymn. So, it was a solo and the guy was off key the whole time. It was horrible and to make it worse I couldn't stop laughing, I FELT SOOOO BADDDD! But, hey, whatever. About my package if you already sent it no problem, but if not, send it to this address:
(My name)
R. Alberto Pasqualini, 121 Salas 401
Centro-Santa Maria-RS
CEP 97015-010
Thanks a million!

Até proxima semana!(Until next week)
Amor do Brasil
Elder Mark Robert Zimbelman

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Whoop-de-doo road

Yesterday as we drove home from California we traversed Hwy 120 which included a section of 10 miles or so with dips - the kind where you loose your stomach if the driver does it just right. It reminded me of the Pearblossom Hwy we used to travel when I was growing up.

Our stake had regular assignment to work on the church welfare farm that included a peach and pear orchard. My dad loves to do things like this so we went on a regular basis. We would get up early on a Saturday morning and drive Pearblossom Hwy. giggling as we drove through miles and miles of dips. Upon arriving we would travel on a trailer pulled by a tractor through the orchard. In the spring we would thin peaches. For an adult they would use their hand as a guide and would thin the peaches so they were no closer together than their outstretched thumb and pinkey. For those of us with smaller hands we were given a measuring device to use. We would go back late summer and pick the peaches. That was the most fun. We would climb on ladders and carefully put our peaches into buckets and then fill the crates on the trailer. These peaches were fully ripe and heading to the cannery. I can't remember if we were supposed to eat them or not but I will be the first to admit that those peaches were the best peaches I have ever had. I can hardly stand to buy them from the store because I know what fresh ripe peaches are really supposed to taste like! We were allowed to buy some for an incredibly cheap price and take them home to can them - which we always did - but that's a story for another day. Thanks to my parents for such great memories. Somehow it never seemed like work to me.