Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Staying cool and working hard...

"Well I'm just getting this email after a looong day at Beaver Lake here in Arkansas...don't worry I wasn't swimming. Just enjoying the lake, exploring, skipping rocks, etc. We went with a family from the ward... Anyways we are teaching an awesome family right now,  they are getting ready to get baptized so if I stay in this area for another transfer I'll have a whole family :D how exciting! It has been extremely hot and the state is under like a 'heat advisory' from 1pm to 7pm every day until Thursday. Temperatures from 105 - 109. Bla.... we're staying cool though. I've just really been enjoying my time here in Arkansas, it has been a great transfer. Lots of good memories have been made here. We had interviews with the Mission President last Friday. Those were fun ha he told me that when he sees my face on the Transfer Board he feels a peace and I told him, "President, you can put me wherever and with whoever and I'll get the job done." He is a great guy. Not a whole lot of letters last week... :( Please find some time to write small notes here and there, I know it is boring to write missionaries but it really makes our day ha We don't have a whole lot to get excited over so letters are golden! Even if you don't have much to say, just something :) I lately have been pondering and researching about a lot of what the pioneers had to go through... it makes my duty seem menial, they gave up so much for the gospel-often times their lives-to get across the plains. If you want to watch a powerful pioneer movie watch "Legacy", so good. We did a lot of service on Saturday, picked corn at the church fields from 6 - 8, then helped a family move from 9-10, and then mowed a members lawn ha It is crazy how fast time goes by on your mission, to think I waited my whole life for this 2 year adventure and it is flying by so quickly... gosh gotta work harder! I don't have any time to waste. Well I don't really have any big spiritual stories to share but I will just speak briefly on the sacredness of the Book of Mormon. We are so lucky to have such a book for our time that gives us divine guidance and spiritual insight that takes us to a whole other plane than any other book. Sure the Bible is incredible also but the Book of Mormon was specifically put together for our time. Treat it like it came from God because it did. We need to study it's words everyday. And as we are reading we can ask the question, "Okay, why did Mormon choose to include this?" We can take something out of every chapter. Missionary work is rough sometimes but to know I belong to this Gospel makes up a lot of the difference. We are just so blessed. Well, that's about all I got fortoday, feel free to write me!
Elder Blackburn
James 1:5 + a Desire + a prayer is all it took :) We truly do have a Heavenly Father who is mindful of his children, how great is that!"

Monday, July 23, 2012

Howdy from the hills of Arkansas!

"This week was long but we got a lot done and are doing well. We started off the week on a discouraging note, some of our investigators dropped us so we have a shallow teaching pool at the moment. We tracted...a lot in the hot blistering sun, this heat wave is crazy! I want some rain! ha We got some good news when this part member family we're teaching said they are ready to set baptismal dates! Yahoo!   Lately for studying I have been listening to a lot of talks by John Bytheway (so good!) and while you're on a mission little things really get you excited so I was looking through the apartments Ensigns and took all the conference addresses I could find and found one from 1988! What a treasure ha see? We get excited over little things like Ensigns. I like to go through the talks and find quotes and write them in my study journal that I call "my small plates"  I love reading Conference talks... :) I don't have my study material with me to relay some good spiritual insights so I'll do my best to remember one. That's cool about the 'Stripling Warriors' parade entry! I want to be in it! I actually wanted to talk about those valiant examples. It is so cool when Helaman asks them are you willing to fight right now against these Lamanites? And it says the stripling warriors had never fought yet they did not fear death. Why? because they were clean and prepared to meet God if they were to die. There mothers taught them that if they obeyed God would deliver them "We do not doubt our mothers knew it", such good examples of honoring their mothers. And because they obeyed every order with exactness not one soul perished. Another good example is when Nephi and his brothers are asked to return to Jerusalem to get the plates (200 mile journey back to Jerusalem) and his brothers murmur but reluctantly go with Nephi who doesn't question nor complain. I think we are more like Laman and Lemuel than we suppose, we might complain then go to seminary or we might complain and then go to mutual or we might complain and then have family prayer or family night. We've got to be like Nephi and just go and do the things that are commanded of us. Be valiant! He then later breaks his bow and his brothers and even Lehi murmurs! And once Nephi makes a bow out of wood and then asks his dad where to go in order to obtain food. (Even after his dad murmured Nephi asked his dad where to go to get food) He still trusted his dad and the lord because he knew he was a prophet and honored his mother and father. We can learn so much from the scriptures. Have a wonderful 24th of July! And study old Conference addresses, you just might learn something! "


Elder Blackburn

I do not doubt my mother knows it!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Hayden a cowboy?

"Hello Everybody! Hope you are all doing well.

So this week has been pretty tough but enjoyable nonetheless! Living with two other Elders is pretty fun and we all get along, occasionally we have a little tussle when we need to decide who's turn it is for dishes/garbage take out/etc. I usually do them ;) I don't mind doing the dishes. It has cooled down a little bit thanks to the cloud cover that has rolled in. I miss the mountains and all but I love to look up and see the clouds go on and on and on ha it's like the Toy Story wallpaper, you know? And the clouds are really low too. Sometimes you even get clouds under clouds... When I get home for some reason I really want to go to a rodeo. I think being out here is really starting to turn me into a cowboy. It's fun I love it. Our apartment is loaded with old ensigns/new eras (so I was in heaven) I have been reading through them and cutting out cool informational articles and put them in my study binder. Those magazines are awesome! Always take time to look through them. On Tuesday we helped at Helping Hands like we usually do and that is always fun. Not a whole lot to report other than while we were tracting we ran into a couple of Jehovah's witnesses and one of them politely wanted to bash with us... seems like there are more bashers here in Arkansas... I think it is due to the many varieties of churches around here and a big influence of Southern Baptists that know their bible. Eating every night with members is so awesome ah! I love playing with their kids and learning their names. Absolute favorite part. So many cute lil' kids in this ward, I bet every family in our ward has a baby too! There are only like two old people in the ward ha it is crazy how young and big this ward is. So fun, I just love playing with the kids! Sacrament can sometimes get noisy with all the babies and toddlers but it's okay :) we made a cool missionary member board to help get referrals, I'll have to email ya'll a picture. That newsletter had a cool picture of Elder Brown! He's like next to a glacier! Wow. I'll take one...next to...a cow ha ha that's about as exciting it gets around here. I miss home but it is like a dream my home has moved to out here and my family has become the members and other elders...Gosh I miss family time. If you want to learn how awesome your family is and how much you love them: serve a mission. I just hope you all know that our Gospel is perfect and it works perfectly. We are apart of the Lord's True Church and have all of the tools to make it back to our Heavenly Father :) Wow we are so lucky! I just love being apart of the work and to know it is true. We are blessed."
Elder Blackburn

Some days are just tough out there...

"Let me first relay a sorrow I am unaccustomed to, when you serve as hard as you can and testify as much as you can and the people you teach and love will just not hearken unto your counsel. It breaks my heart, right now we have lost many investigators and are back to square one, we tract all day, seek referrals but to no avail. We plead with our sparse investigators to keep commitments and to taste of the fruit to see if it is indeed sweet and to step into the light of the Restored Gospel but instead they lounge in the shadows of false comfort and doubt. Tears build in my eyes as I testify of the truth to those I've grown to love but I see in theirs the hints of fear of the unknown and the fear of having to work for an answer. Why must it be so hard for people to read a book testifying of our Savior? Why must people put off their salvation and never think about the life to come? They have nothing to lose and Celestial Salvation to gain. If I go my whole mission not baptizing a soul, I am still a successful Missionary, indeed your joy shall be great if you bring souls unto our Father's kingdom but there are many good Elders that work hard and see no fruit of their labors, perhaps this is why I am here, maybe I am the lone sower planting seeds that will bloom later in the season. Sometimes in the darkest pit of discouragement after a long day of work I wish I could embrace the Savior and just let him assure me it's okay I would wet his shoulders with my tears and cry, "Oh Lord, I tried..." he would lovingly say, "I know Hayden, I know." Sometimes we are put down the road less traveled, for someone has to do it, You'll find me there along that road somewhere and spot a young brown boy marching proudly in his suit and tie with his name tag in place shining triumphantly:


I will bear his name proudly, I will take my cross and follow him.
Shall we not go on in so great a cause?"

Thursday, July 12, 2012

4th of July and a new Mission President

"Well, this week has been so packed with stuff! Tuesday was Zone Conference/Introduction of our new Mission President. He basically laid down the law. I guess it's pretty typical of new Presidents to come in aggressive to let all of us know who's boss. He is really cool though and really gun-ho about being obedient and doing our best so it was a good boost. He gave us a CD of music and was like "alright this is a guideline of music you should be listening to... It just has music all of us basically already have so we're like awesome thank you... I'll write you home about what he specifically talked about. The fourth of July was really fun, it says in the handbook that holidays are the best for contacting... ha ha no one wants to be bothered really. We tried anyway. That night we went over to a members home and had a little BBQ and two investigators were there that were invited also. We did some sparklers and then returned home. Fireworks were being shot near our apartment so we watched them from the stairs. On Friday an investigator who we've met with quite a bit and who my companion had been previously meeting with for four months before had a breakdown and told us how her parents had abandoned her and her siblings abused her and how her kids hate her and she has no idea why and she was just crying and crying because her kids won't talk to her and they tell her they don't love her. She told us how the last four months til now is the first time she has ever felt loved in her whole life - it was so sad. It really made me realize how much mothers care about their children and how mothers deserve respect and love. We gave her a blessing and I had the opportunity to give it and it was such a neat experience I felt the spirit literally pulse through me and felt the chills as I gave it. Afterwards I couldn't remember what I had even said and my companion said "That was the coolest blessing I've ever heard, man." It was a good experience to say the least... Saturday morning we woke up at good ol' 5:30AM to pick corn in a the Church's field for two hours and then helped a lady move for 7 hours. The moving was fun though because us, and the Rogers 1st Elders and the Spanish Elders and another set helped with us and so we had a lot of fun. ha ha Well, that's about it from Elder Blackburn :) hope you guys are all doing well and staying cool, It was 108 on Thursday... but it just rained and cooled down luckily."

Elder Blackburn

Monday, July 2, 2012

Hello from Arkansas

"Well, my first week in Arkansas has been awesome! The ward I am in is so cool!!! Our ward house is just like home so it is really weird ha. The ward helps out so much, we have a meal every night in July! Are you kidding me?! That is so awesome, I am so blessed :) I love Arkansas. I really do. But it is extremely hot temperatures ranging from 103 - 105 everyday... but I don't mind it to much. They banned fireworks because it is so dry. There must be a big heat wave goin' on across the U.S... I miss Pittsburg sometimes but I am happy for the change of scenery. Today we are going to go to an Indian Museum so I'm excited. We are right next to Bentonville so we have lots to do around here. Also, everyone works for Wal-mart out here ha ha we might go visit the "first" store. I hope you guys survive the heat in Utah and enjoy the 4th of July festivities... I sometimes find myself going "what? am I seriously in Arkansas on a mission right now?" ha I love it. It is so interesting to me how a mission just opens up your mind to the gospel and every point of the gospel just unfolds beautifully right before your eyes. I can't express my love for the Book of Mormon so I won't even try to right now, just know that it is true because it is true. The Plan of Salvation is so beautiful, to be able to rest assured that families can be together for eternity and that life continues when we die, how the Atonement works for everyone and is infinite "no one can sink lower than the light of Christ's atonement shines" the gospel is applicable to everyone of us because we are all sons and daughters of the most high God and that most high God gave us his son. His perfect son. For you. And for me. Because he loves us all and knows what we are worth and he sees us as his children and the sons and daughters he designed us to become. And he hopes that we will take that opportunity to do the small acts of faith he requires (repentance, baptism, receive the Holy Ghost, Endure to the End) so that we will live with him again. We have a Father in Heaven who loves you specifically and he sent his son to atone for you specifically. I can't comprehend the love he has for us nor will I try but it is unconditional and every synonym that goes with it. And it is free. All he asks is us to come to him with a "broken heart and a contrite spirit". There's a song by Paul Cardall I love that says "give up your sin and let him in, lose yourself and you'll find peace, take up the cross and follow him the one who died and with no sin he rose to give you life, the lord hears your prayers if you let him, God knows your name he is your kind friend, his love, runs deeper, than rivers, oceans calling you home" We see God's love in so many ways: a mother caring for her crying child, an elderly persons smile, the twinkle in a newborns eye, a father teaching his son, a toddler's prayer, etc. :)
Anyways I am grateful for my opportunity to serve :)
I love you all,
I love my family and am so blessed to be sealed to them for eternity,
An Elder trying to help the Lord's work move along."
Elder Hayden T. Blackburn