Monday, January 28, 2013

New area, new companion, the work continues...

"Hello! So transfers happened I moved one ward directly south. Different zone and stake. My area is pretty happening and is a big town, the area is much larger than my last, it is the Har-Ber Ward in Springdale, Arkansas. My new companion is Elder Hughes from Nampa, ID. He is super pumped about the work and is just fresh out of the MTC he is a runner so we have started running in the mornings now...(I'm gonna die...ha ha) Being "shotgunned" or "white washed" into an area is not very starting from GPS helps so much. We are targeting our less-actives and part-member families because I feel that is where success in our mission comes from, helping them out is the best I love to visit people and help them remember how wonderful the gospel is. The ward is big but only about 1/2 come to church. It was really tough saying all of my goodbyes... it was tough but I gotta move to where the Lord needs me. I never thought that there were families out there waiting for me in Arkansas that I would come to love so much...crazy. 

So lately I have been studying the principle of praying specifically to Heavenly Father...
Think about praying specifically like this-----
If I were to ask you to go get me some food, your going to ask.."what kind?" Same with prayer we can't just say thanks for a nice day and for all of our blessings and expect him to give us what we need. We must be specific like when you order food you are specific, now I'm not comparing praying like ordering food but just to show how we must pray specifically and have a deep conversation with Heavenly Father. Joseph B. Wirthlin said that a prayer that does not demand much of your thought will hardly merit much attention from our Heavenly Father. It is definately an aquired thing to learn how to pray. It is embarrasing to say but I just barely started to understand how prayer works and why we pray, it is so much more than just saying..."thanks for a nice day and for our blessings..." it is a conversation that is guided by the Spirit. Latter day saints that have grown up in the Church I think take for granted prayer and become dissensitized to its power because we do it so much. Prayer is such a powerful tool and it says in Preach My Gospel that "No one can know of Spiritual Truths without prayer." Very interesting that by prayer so much happens,
>by prayer Lehi/Nephi were able to have visions and be led to the promised land
>by prayer an Angel stopped Alma the Younger and the Sons of Mosiah
>by prayer King Lamoni and his father were struck and converted
>when Christ came to the Nephites he, out of everything taught, emphasized the principle of Prayer
>while performing the Atonement Christ "...prayed more earnestly..." and was in prayer throughout the process
>by prayer Joseph Smith saw the first vision and this dispensation was opened

Prayer is so often, I think, overlooked but has many, many dimensions to it and I think is more powerful than we will ever know or fully understand. My challenge is for you guys to start praying more specifically and more sincerely. Miracles will happen."

Elder Blackburn

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A "shotgun area", farming and animals

We received a short email and some pictures from Elder Blackburn - we all know of his love for animals...we just didn't realize that being in Arkansas has awakened the farming DNA in his blood...

He will find out who his new companion is tomorrow (Wed 1/23/13)


"Yes, I will be training (in the new area). Shotgunned into the area and training (to shotgun means to put two new elders in an area) My trainer Elder Jensen is a zone leader now which is sweet (he was an awesome trainer) so yesterday for Preparation Day a member took us Elders up to Gentry Safari It was SA-WEET! You drive through the park and see all sorts of crazy animals just running loose like a game preserve so we had a loaf of bread and would feed the camels and emu's that would walk up to the window ha ha they had all sorts of animals and a cool petting zoo where you could pet baby giraffes and kangaroos.  I have some funny/awesome videos that you guys have to see. Also this last Saturday was a bitter/sweet moment the last family member of the family I was able to teach was baptized and the program was wonderful...I was so happy to be here at the right time to help that family come to the Gospel. That family I believe is a big reason why I was here in this area specifically. :)

Also I am obsessed with Chicken farming, I'm totally getting a few when I get home if that's okay...I'm a farmer Wayne County..."

Monday, January 21, 2013


Below is Hayden's email received this morning:

Alright Transfer Calls came and I am bidding adieu to my "home" ward that I have served a wonderful 7.5 months in :) I am going to Springdale, Arkansas.
This is my new address as of this Thursday:

7275 Napa Valley Lane #204
Springdale, Arkansas

I will email tomorrow because today is Martin Luther King Jr. day!

Love you all!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Busy in Arkansas

Note:  due to some changes with companionships, Elder Blackburn is temporarily working alongside two other Elders - so the three of them are hard at work in the Centerton area until the next transfer!

Hey guys!
This week has been really good we did a BUNCH of work. Taught lots of lessons. We've started doing a lot of active member lessons specified towards missionary work with an outline that President Shumway gave to us in order to get more referrals and the ward members geared towards the finding efforts. It seems to be working.... Since we have a car and since I was, I guess, adopted into the Centerton area we are doing quite a bit of work now that we have to cover three areas. The Centerton ward is really cool and some of the members are high up in Walmart. 

So during this week I have recently had my testimony strengthened in the doctrine behind John 14:26-27/2 Nephi 33:1/2 Nephi 32:3/Romans 10:17

The Holy Ghost is such a key to missionary work that if we do not have the Holy Ghost as missionaries we won't teach people, we just won't, missionary work cannot work without the Spirit. The reason behind that is because just like Nephi says it, "Carries it unto the hearts of the children of men..." The Spirit is the reason people become converted. Our job as missionaries is to be the middle man, we teach, testify, and tell them what they need to do in order to have a spiritual experience and communicate with their Heavenly Father. We help them, through the Spirit, tap into that communication line and establish that necessary relationship to receive revelation. We can't have that connection for them, we tell them how to plug in their prayer line to Heavenly Father's receiver and if they do it they will receive an answer (It is so cool that we can promise that they can/will receive an answer). And we must have the Holy Ghost so that when we testify it will "prick" their hearts in order for them to do the commitments we leave which, as Joseph Smith says, "press on their mind" the things they should do which if they do the commitments it will become prayer which will become personal revelation which will become repentance which will become testimony which will become conversion which will become baptism.
I guess this would be the steps:
We prepare to teach them (The Spirit helps us know what to teach them and what their needs are)<
We teach and testify with the Spirit<
The Spirit touches their heart<
They start to read the Book of Mormon, or pray, or come to Church (whatever the commitment was)<
They get personal revelation (an answer confirming the truth)<
They start to repent through fervent prayer<
The feelings they feel and spiritual experiences they have while in this process become something real and concrete the experiences into a testimony<As they repent they want to make covenants and will do anything to do what God wants them to do (they are converted)<
They are baptized and then they have entered the gate of the strait and narrow path.

"Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost."

But it all starts with us having the Spirit to know what they need to hear so that the Spirit will "Prick" their hearts and they will ask us just like Peter of Old,
"Men and Brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the holy ghost."

So this whole process is dependent upon two things: The Spirit and their agency
One of the hardest things to understand as a missionary that even if a lesson goes absolutely perfect they can still choose to not accept and it is really hard because you prepare so much and pour out your heart to them and you think to yourself there is no way they aren't feeling the Spirit right now, but sometimes they just don't accept and you don't understand because you are telling them exactly what they need to hear: The Gospel of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and all the answers they need in order to have maximum joy down here on Earth and what steps they need to do in order to return to a loving Heavenly Father who didn't place them here alone and hopless he placed them here WITH a way back (Gospel) and WITH a guide and comforter (Holy Ghost) and WITH an savior who atoned and took upon himself all of our sins/afflictions/trials who is our example (The Savior) and WITH a road map (The Scriptures) WITH a spokesperson (The Prophet) WITH his power and authority (The Priesthood) and the assurance that, through sacred ordinances, they can be with their family forever.

I don't know what I did in the Pre-mortal realm to be so lucky here in this mortal life so I just thank Heavenly Father for my being able to be born to goodly parents who had a testimony of the Restored Gospel and of our Savior, who raised me in righteousness and by virtue of the priesthood, by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile— and for being reproved at betimes with sharpness, when my parents were moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward me when I was reproved;

The Gospel is true and I am grateful for every. little. part. of. it. and for a loving Heavenly Father who created the universe and worlds without number yet, who notices the fall of every sparrow.

Elder Blackburn

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Missionary Sacrament Meeting Talk

So this week was soooo, good I am so glad I got to talk to you guys that was absolutely splendid. I had to give a talk on Sunday so here it is:


A Message that Saves

Good afternoon Brothers and sisters, I am grateful for the opportunity to speak to you today. I am very grateful because this is a great opportunity to thank all of you for all your love and support and delicious meals, I would be a fool if I did not stand before you and thank you for everything you have done on behalf of the missionaries, and more specifically for me, I have spent these 6 months in such a great ward, and I can’t thank Heavenly Father enough for allowing me to spend so much of my time here surrounded by so many amazing members. I have met so many amazing people and have made so many friendships that it will be like another farewell when I have to leave. On missions we don’t have our families to lean on during the tough time and I have felt like you all have been my family to lean on when the times have been difficult. I am especially proud of the family I was able to teach, they will always hold a special place in my heart. It has been a marvelous privilege to have been here at the right time to have our paths crossed. As missionaries we are the ones that are supposed to do the teaching but I feel like I have been the teach-ee as I have learned so much from those valiant young men that I was able to baptize. 

Alright, now to the talk…my message is entitled “a message that saves”, because of incidences in the recent years both natural disasters and terrible crimes, the world is starting to recognize that the world is slipping into destruction. It has brought attention to our families that we are indeed in the last days. The only thing we can “continually hold” to is the family and the gospel. I can’t imagine living in today’s society without the foundation of the gospel that we as members of the church have. The phrase “hold to the rod” is becoming quite literal as the world continues to ripen in iniquity. Not only holding to the iron rod ourselves but we can also be iron rods for our family and neighbors as we set a good example and help mankind down the path that leads to true happiness and true peace.

Because it was Christmas this past week we as missionaries have the unique opportunity to communicate to our family. While doing so my mother told me a story that really hit home. The girl that I am writing is someone who I am very close to and am well acquainted with her siblings. Her older sister lives in New Mexico with her cute little family her oldest child being 5 years old. My mom said that they had neighbors that they grew really close to and they had a little girl that was the same age as their little boy. They became good friends but that family, the neighbors, moved to Connecticut and that is where the little girl entered into kindergarten. As you know, an unspeakable tragedy occurred where kindergarten students were killed by an armed gunman and amid the disaster their little girl was found but her spirit was no longer with her body. That precious child was sent back to the loving Heavenly Father that knew she was too precious to go through the strife and grief of this evil, fallen world and her task was to just gain a body so she could move on with her eternal progression. What a tragedy to the parents that now have to overcome such a seemingly impossible obstacle. Luckily, they were also members of the church and they have the gospel that saves. They know that their little girl is in the eternal worlds and that if they keep their covenants they will be able to be a family forever and they will be able to raise her in the next life. They know that there is a life after death and that this earth life is only a sliver in the eternal scheme, they know that the Atonement of Jesus Christ can help them overcome this and that his love can fill their empty hearts, they hold the gospel that allows them to access the blessings of the Atonement. Is it any wonder that the father of this girl was the first one to speak to the public after the catastrophe? Most of those parents I am sure are looking for the answers and think that all is lost and that they will never see their child again. That is why we must share the gospel with everyone. We must share it because it saves lives, it gives hope to the hopeless, faith to the faithless, and peace to the soul. It holds the keys to happiness and to repentance. That is what the gospel is all about repentance! To become clean again so that we can return to our Heavenly Father…to return to our God and Creator, the only way being through this gospel, through this priesthood, and through God’s only Begotten Son. (2 Nephi 9:21) He’s paid the price for ALL of us, for you and for me, and we need to help others learn how they can access the Atonement and the blessings that come from it! Life becomes so much easier to bear when we have the eternal perspective and when we know all of the eternal answers to life, we know why bad things happen, why there is evil, why there is death, why we must suffer sometimes, and where we come from and where we are going. We know these answers, but other people don’t! We could save someone from stumbling down a path of sorrow and instead lead them down the path that allows us to endure life well and to rise up against the Goliaths that challenge the way. That is why we must share the gospel. We have the best tools, the Book of Mormon, it is fail-proof and if they read it with a sincere heart, having faith in Christ, and with real intent he will always answer them. Always. Satan, the great deceiver, stops us from sharing with some classic thoughts, here are some examples:

· “I don’t have time…”

· “They won’t accept it, why bother…”

· “They aren’t ready yet…”

· “What if they think differently of me...?”

· “Next time…”

God knows who is ready and who is not, it is not our job to judge that, our job is just to share it. By taking time to share the gospel we can avoid tragedies and avoid heartache when tragedies do occur. By taking the time to share the gospel, we are not only blessed for it but they will be forever grateful that you took the time to share it with them. We just need to have faith that they will accept it and that they will act on what we teach. (2 Nephi 33:1) When we are guided by the Spirit it will whisper to them that it is true. They already accepted the gospel once, hence why they are here on Earth, we just need to help them remember and the Holy Ghost can do that (John 14:26)

The gospel is true and it is the only thing that brings happiness in this life and in the next. I know Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that he did translate the Book of Mormon and that it is the word of God. I know Jesus Christ lives and he is our savior, I am so glad that we have a loving Heavenly Father who doesn’t leave us here alone and without the way. He gave us the way and it is through his Son.

In his name, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Have a good week,


Elder Blackburn