Monday, October 22, 2012

Arkansas October

Hello Family and Friends,
"This week was...better. We have a baptism this Saturday which should be a great experience. I'm glad my words were able to touch the hearts of those in the ward. That means a lot due to most of the time I feel like my words reach no one...I have become even more determined in my studies, I love to sit in my little "office" desk I have with a notebook, my scriptures, and ensigns. I could spend the rest of my mission studying as I have developed a hunger for knowledge.
One of my absolute favorite talks is by Elder Boyd K. Packer, I'm sure you've heard it or heard references to it, it is his "Spiritual Crocodiles" talk. I think by now I can recite it by memory but I just love the way he tells it and the great message behind his story of traveling to Africa. He tells how he always dreamed of going on safaris as a kid as other boys played cowboy he was pretending to hunt wild safari animals. His dream of going on a safari came as he was assigned to dedicate 8 chapels in South Africa. One of the days spent there was September the 10, his birthday, and he was given the opportunity to tour a game preserve. (he says they are rather odd because the people are put in cages and the animals left to run free ha ha) He was with a ranger and came across some muddy elephant tracks that were filled with a little bit of water that animals were nervously trying to drink from. (it was a dry year and water was found mostly in muddy elephant tracks as they stepped in the mud water would sink in the depression left) He asked the ranger why the animals were so nervous and he responded "Crocodiles." Elder Packer knew he must be joking and said "No, really what is it?" the Ranger answered again "Crocodiles", "Nonsense" Elder Packer replied. Elder Packer was not uninformed he had read many books on the animals and besides everyone knows you can't hid a crocodile in an elephant track! The ranger saw he did not believe him so he drove up to an embankment and peered down and the muddy track. He didn't see any crocodile and then all of the sudden he could see the big reptile settled in the mud waiting for an unexpected gazelle or wildebeest to take a sip. Elder Packer explains the lesson he learned, around us are many spiritual crocodiles camouflaged even better than those reptiles of Africa and can hide in the smallest of things, and they are far more dangerous than real ones, they could mutilate or kill your soul. He says sometimes in life we must depend fully on the words of guides who have been around longer and who have probed the holes and can warn us of the danger. Although they don't go by "guides" they go by Mother, Father, Church Leader, and Bishop. His know-it-all attitude could have proved fateful had the ranger said "Go out and see for yourself!" He learned that yes, you can hide a crocodile in an elephant track and to trust those that know better. We too must listen and follow the counsel of those that know better. Often times the attitude I had at home was "I know better, in fact I think I know more than my parents and other leaders do." That attitude wasn't worthy of me, I hope you know better than I did. I since have learned that one of the safest and most simplest ways to make it back to Heavenly Father is to do what your parents tell you to do. Had I fully followed that I think I would have not been nipped and bit by a few crocodiles I stumbled into earlier in life. Luckily there is first aid in the Atonement of Christ and we can be healed from the injuries left by those celestial carnivores.

Yesterday I had a family in the ward call my family and tell them hello and that I love them for me. They are an awesome family that are always helping us out. They are converts and have been members for four years. After the phone call they said your father sounded so happy! And were impressed with his fluency in Espanol ;) on my way back to the apartment I reflected on how my father was probably beaming after that unexpected call. It struck me then how I am a son to a father. I have been studying so much about The Father and The Son that I forgot that I am a son to a father too! I felt a glimpse of what it must be like to have a son of my own, part of me in a little boy that resembles me and how hard it would be to send that little one on a mission. I felt the love I would have for that little one and suddenly felt not only how much love my Father in Heaven has for me but how much my Earthly father loves me. I believe I have the best parents in the world and am so grateful to be their son. How amazing it is that we as humans have the ability to make an earthly tabernacle for Heavenly Fathers spirit children and through those powers we can invite little boys and little girls to come and live with us, in the image of both Heavenly and Mortal parentage. I am proud to be who I am, and often times that fact alone helps me get through a lot. The sweet inspired words of the children's song "I am a Child of God" often is enough to pull tears out of this Missionary serving in Arkansas. The line "I am a Child of God and he has sent me here has given me an Earthly home with Parents kind and dear lead me, guide me, walk beside me, help me find the way, teach me all that I must do to live with him some day."

He has sent me to an Earthly home and to Parents kind a dear, he's leading me, he's guiding me, he is walking beside and showing me the way, he's teaching me all that I must do to live with him someday.

Heavenly Father loves us so much that he gave up his own little boy for our sake.
For that I am eternally grateful."

Elder Blackburn

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