Monday, November 26, 2012

A memorable Thanksgiving

"So this was a really fun Thanksgiving! We done had a great week. (Arkansas accent) We played in our wards Turkey Bowl and had a lot of fun with that. I love the ward I'm in it has been such a fun couple of transfers here! It is hard to believe that by Dec. 20 I will have been in this ward for 6 months! But hold off on the Christmas stuff because I probably will get transferred but maybe not, who knows. We will know a week from this Saturday, I will keep ya'll posted on that. 

The Baptism went great on Saturday it was so special...Ah! Always a great experience. I must tell you though when I first arrived in this area and met this young man for the first time I got this distinct whispering from the spirit that told me that I was going to baptize him. I just felt that I was going to and that their family would become active...I don't know why but I just knew it. So it has been such an incredible journey to see this tale unfold, both parents have callings in the ward now. Truly a miracle and the Spirit really can change people. Yesterday was a great Sunday too, me and Elder Peterson gave talks on courage and went to Primary to teach the kids about missionary work. We did a 'Tracting Simulation' where I chose a companion from the kids and we knocked on the door and met Elder Peterson who was pretending to be an investigator. Then we had two girls try and two boys try, it was so darn cute me and Elder Peterson the rest of the day couldn't stop smiling. And that night was a missionary fireside where President Shumway came and spoke and he gave a great talk and he looked at the teenage boys and girls and said,"You young people have been in reserve for 6000 years for this special time. Do you know why it is so special so different from the other times? Because this time Satan Loses! (he said this pretty loudly) All the other times he's won but this time he loses! You make sure you are on the right side when that happens."
Elder Blackburn

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving blessings

"Time is going by and it's getting close to Thanksgiving! I like Holidays on your mission it makes it exciting but they don't really feel like holidays...ha this one will though. We are having Thanksgiving dinner with a family from Hawaii - their son is an all-star football player at a local high school that is ranked #5 in the nation - he will probably play for BYU when he is older. 

We have another baptism this Saturday so that will be fun, he asked me if I would baptize him and I said of course I will! We had interviews with President Shumway on Wednesday so those were good, he means business. It's like having a CEO for a Mission President, he is a super successful business man and knows so many high-up people....Friends in high places! But he is very spiritual and a great leader. 

So my favorite thing to do is listen to old church talks and so I just want to report on a couple of them...
First is the talk, "Ten Commandments of a Peculiar People." By Bruce R. McConkie
1. Thou shalt be morally clean and conform to every standard of virtue  (he says..."Immorality is the crying evil of our day.."
2. Thou shalt bridle thy passions and abstain from all lasciviousness    (..."True happiness is only found in righteous conduct...")
3. Thou shalt be modest in dress and appearance (...for the young men: "Long hair and grubby living opens the door to rebellion against the established order and to associations which lead away from the Church.." ---total Elder McConkie comment, he doesn't beat around the bush, that's why I love his talks he is so straightforward.)
4. Thou shalt be honest and manifest integrity in all thy doings (..."Neither a dishonest man nor a man lacking in integrity can be saved in the kingdom of God...")
5. Thou shalt pay thy tithes and offerings to the Lord (.."Money is the root of all evil.")
6. Thou shalt go to Sacrament meeting and keep the Sabbath day holy
7. Thou shalt keep the Word of Wisdom ("Now note what was involved in the promise in D&C Section 89: First, "walking in obedience to the commandments," for the World of Wisdom is more than a law of health; and second, those keeping it "shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures." These hidden treasures include such things as a testimony of the truth and divinity of the work, personal revelation to guide us in all our affairs and to provide us with the constant companionship of the Holy Spirit. And the eternal decree is that the Spirit will not dwell in an unclean tabernacle.")
8. Thou shalt believe true doctrines and reject false educational theories of the world (.."We are saved or damned based upon what we believe.")
9. Thou shalt serve thy fellowmen and sacrifice for the building of the Kingdom of God (.."A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never produces the faith necessary for salvation..")
10. Thou Shalt pour out thy soul to the Lord in mighty prayer
What a glorious and wondrous thing it is to be a member of the church and kingdom of God on earth, to have the revelations of heaven, and to know what is meant by the prophetic utterances and the counsels written by prophets and apostles. We are so blessed. This Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God's kingdom on earth. It is led by the spirit of inspiration. If we follow the counsel and direction that we receive, then these principles about which we have talked will live in our lives. They will live because they are true and because the Lord wants to operate by these standards. Out of that kind of a course we shall get the joy and the peace "that passeth all understanding" while we are here in mortality, and we'll have a guaranteed inheritance of glory, honor, immortality, and exaltation in the realms ahead.
The Second Talk, "Choose to Be Good." By Henry B. Eyring
His talk was about how choosing to be good before we come across a temptation is far wiser and allows us more safety. He says that the best people do good when no one watches or notices and so when we spot people like that and we do notice the thought goes through his mind, "Maybe what I thought was good enough when I get to the other side won't be. Maybe some humble people are living better than I thought I could." That statement is great food for thought and it woke me up and I thought wow, I want to be better. Better than I was, and never be satisfied with how good I can be. He continues to say how the best and truest guides to base our selves off of is those who are called of God and think what they would do if they had the situations we have. And to be guided to do good:
1. Read the scriptures
2. Pray, pray to know what Christ would do if he had my opportunities and ask, "What is there that thou would have me do?"
3. Have Charity
A good quote by President Benson is, "Obtaining a righteous and virtuous life is within the capability of anyone of us if we will earnestly seek for it. To know the Savior is to be like him."
After listening to both talks it gives me such hope that I can improve and my life can become so much better as I use that wonderful gift of the Atonement! Some of you are probably thinking what? I can't live all of those...or it isn't cool to live every single principle...Well I'm here to tell you it is possible and it is "cool" to God if we live every single one. The blessings we can receive from obeying with exactness are exponentionally large, we have a great challenge issued by Christ himself, "What manner of men ought ye to be? Even as I am... Be ye perfect." So let's get to it! Eternal life and Exaltation awaits us if we but follow these standards here while we are in this mortal sliver of existence. Use the Atonement it is their for us to use. The Atonement is not just for the sinners. It is for anyone with afflictions, imperfections, depression, hopelessness, fear, loneliness, challenges, etc. Let the love of the Savior fill your heart as you more earnestly pray to become perfect. God did not place us here to fail and he will NEVER let us down. It is up to us to stay near him and ward off those doubts the adversary throws with our shield of Faith, let's not believe in our darkest hours that God has left us or that he has let us down or we have let him down. He is our Father and loves us and waits to hear from us, and waits to bless us. Christ waits to surround you with his love, so if you are in need get on your knees. Your probably thinking, "Elder Blackburn it is impossible to be perfect so why even try?" We can be perfect in our church attendance, our temple attendance, being chaste, our scripture reading, letting the ones we love know we love them. If ye keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land. God doesn't require perfection from us but he requires that we give it all we've got, when we were baptized we chose to obey God to take upon us Christ's name and to always remember him, we put our hand to the plough and we are to never look back at our old life in sin. Let's give it our all shall we? We can do it!  "I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up."
Elder Blackburn

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A quick note

"Wow, look at that snow! That is impressive! Sheesh it really poured over there in Utah! That's awesome, it is just a little chilly here no snow...I'm not a huge fan of snow except when it's on the ski resorts. We put up our Christmas decorations for our apartment yesterday ha ha. Yesterday we couldn't email (it was Veteran's Day)... but our zone got together and we played ultimate frisbee and football. Elder Asiata and I dominated ha ha He is way cool his older brother Matt Asiata is on the Minnesota Vikings right now. Pretty cool he chose to serve, he is a big boy ha. It was a ton of fun we came up with some pretty creative plays like there was one where we hiked the ball and then huddled in a circle and ran away all pretending to have the ball under our shirt and the other team would be confused and then I would have it and get their attention and drag them over to the side and then I would throw it back to Elder Urban who would then throw it into the End Zone where our whole team was open for a touchdown. It was awesome. Also, our week went pretty good, we are seeing good success. Tomorrow we have interviews with President Shumway so I am really excited. Interviews are such boosters, we Elders LOVE them. Lately, I have been studying "Time Vindicates the Prophet" by Hugh Nibley. Pretty good stuff, I just finished reading "Commentary on the Small Plates of Nephi" By George Reynolds and Janne M. Sojdahl. It is a very good book and was written in 1950. I don't have a whole lot of time today so I weeks email will be larger!"

Elder Blackburn

Friday, November 9, 2012

A possible future companion is called...

In our email to Hayden, we told him the news that a friend who is one year younger and in our Ward was just called to serve in the Tulsa, OK mission.  Two guys that attended Priest's Quorum together and live less than a block apart could be companions in the mission field!
"Wow, I am so excited Jake is coming to this mission! Oh, wow! I am praying I get to train him! He will love it out here--this mission totally fits him: hardworkin' people, ranches, a little bit o' south. That is great news! I am so happy for him.
We spent a nice Halloween night at a member's house and helped hand out candy to the trick or treaters. I brought my camera to email some pictures but I forgot I replaced the memory card, so I will just send it home in a letter. It is full with good stuff. We had a rough week but in the midst of it we had a few lessons that were very spiritual so it boosted me through. One of them was a man we tracted into and we got talking and he suddenly got very adament about Christianity and all you need to do is confess Christ to be saved and me and Peterson started to get a little scared because he was pretty built physically and he was like yelling this at us and we thought he was going to start throwing punches or something but then something happened the spirit took over and we just discussed his concerns (he said he had met with elders before and had some problems with our beliefs) and it was amazing! His countenance changed. His heart softened and he started to listen and by the end he said things like, "Oh, I guess I didn't look in to it as much as I should of." or "I didn't know that, that makes more sense." and we ended up having a great discussion. I love those teaching moments. You study and study and fill up your spiritual well so that when the moment comes when you need the spirit to put words into your mind you are ready with a well full of teachings, scriptures, quotes, etc. I love that. Doctrine and Covenants 84:85 Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man."

Elder Blackburn