Monday, September 10, 2012

Week of the 6 month mark -

Hey Family and Friends!

"This was a fast week! Wow! And yes I heard the news GO AGGIES! So proud of them. This week flew we had to change the date of a baptism we have coming up to the 30th...and another family we have been teaching is scheduled for the 29th.  I hope I stay in the area another transfer (transfers are the 20th). This week a general authority visited us: Elder Choi. He is from South Korea and he shared many cool stories about how he was a bodyguard for the National President of Korea. He served a mission in Korea for a year but it is mandantory that all men serve in the army there so he got called out from his mission to serve in the army and after serving in the army for 3 years went straight back to the mission field so he was gone from home 5 years! He taught us a cool lesson on how faith is like kimchi. It takes effort for kimchi and faith to become delicious to us. Kimchi is a traditional Korean meal eaten almost at every meal time. At first it tastes gross but then becomes super delicious. I was able to sing at the meeting too..ha ha crazy..I know. 
This week a huge storm came in as we were teaching in a garage to one investigator (because that's where there are chairs for us and we have our lessons in there) all of the sudden these huge dark clouds came rolling in (it looked like the dust storm in the movie Hidalgo but in the sky) and before we knew it the clouds were right over us and the sky was green and it went from really humid and muggy to freezing cold: perfect storm for a tornado. We watched as the clouds slowly started to rotate and so we ducked for cover! No tornado formed but it rained cats and dogs for a good half of an hour. Storms back home are like sprinkles compared to storms out here.

(Hayden's little sister Hallie has been asked to talk at her cousin's baptism next month so Hayden sent along this advice)

Hallie needs a talk on baptism? Alright:
We are baptized because Christ was and we need to follow his example so that we can become clean. In John 3:5 we read how we must be baptized of water and of the spirit in order to inherit the kingdom of God. When we are baptized it represents how Christ died, was buried, and how he was resurrected. We symbolically get fall back and are buried with water and then come "straightway" out of the water represented resurrection. After we are baptized the second part is to be given to the holy ghost, the baptism washes away our sins and the Holy Ghost sanctifies us. Now we have made a covenant with our Heavenly Father. We can read about what we covenanted in the Book of Mormon (mosiah 18, 2 Nephi 31, 32,33) we honor that covenant by keeping our end of the deal and He promises to keep his end of the deal by giving us a remission of sins each Sunday as we partake of the Sacrament. We must be baptized by the Authority of God, the Priesthood, in order for it to be sealed in Heaven. Uncle Tim holds that priesthood and it can be traced back to Jesus. Joseph Smith while translating the Golden Plates wondered how we are to be baptized so he and Oliver Cowdery inquired of the Lord and John the Baptist came and gave them the keys to baptism. Needless to say, Baptism is a sacred gift from God and we should be grateful for the opportunity to live in a time where we can be baptized. Baptism is only the beginning to a path of discipleship that we promise to take and is the first step towards Eternal Life.

My spiritual thought for this week is:
Heavenly Father loves us and is aware of us and what we are going through. That is factual you see, "In the presence of God all things are manifest past, present, and future and are continually before the Lord." D&C 130:7. So the future you is before him now. He knows what it is we need in our lives to become that future self he sees now. He knows what needs to come and what kind of remodeling our lives need. This will require us to accept the truths that came to Joseph Smith in which he was reminded "that his suffering would be but for a small moment." The tests we face are real and they aren't things we can do with one hand tied behind our back. They are real and we will know they are real because we will have felt them and will battle through them.
We must learn the lessons taught in Gethsemane:
1. At times we may wonder if we have been forgotten or forsaken we must do as Christ did and acknowledge that God is still there and never doubt that reality.
2. At times we may try to pray away what seems like an impending tragedy but which, in reality, is an opportunity. We must surrender our will to God's will. It is because he loves us that at times he will not intercede as we may wish him to.

To endure, to be patient in the midst of affliction and suffering, that is real sainthood. When discouraged I like to think of Alma The Younger after he was rejected in the city of Ammonihah. As a missionary in the Bible Belt rejection is typical and very common, but this scripture always warms my heart "it came to pass while Alma was thus weighed down with sorrow, behold an angel of the Lord appeared unto him, saying: Blessed art thou, Alma; therefore, lift up thy head and rejoice, for thou hast great cause to rejoice; for thou hast been faithful in keeping the commandments of God from the time which thou receivedst thy first message from him. Behold, I am he that delivered it unto you. And behold, I am sent to command thee that thou return." How wonderful, Heavenly Father knew what Alma was experiencing and sent the same angel that turned him to repentance, to tell him you are doing great! I am so proud of you, go get 'em! I am so grateful for a Heavenly Father and for his love and care to put customized challenges and trials in my path so that I can become the Son of God he would have me be."

Elder Blackburn

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