Friday, June 28, 2013

Hello Family and Friends,
First I would like to say: THAT MEETING LAST NIGHT WAS TOTALLY AWESOME! I thoroughly enjoyed it. And it was also a great surprise to see Elder Jelitto up there with the prestigious D.C North Mission. It would never be our mission we're too hick for that kind of prominence.
Secondly I'm glad you had a fun time on trek...I wish I could've gone...I love trek.

And finally this weeks been good 'n hot and we've been out and about, we have been visiting a lot of less-actives and VA hospital is in our area so we have been going there to give blessings to members that are staying there from various wards around our mission and also to members within our ward.

I want to share with you a cute little missionary story, okay? It is just one that will hopefully brighten your day, put a smile on your face, and increase your faith in Christ. As we were called to go see a less-active member who was at the VA (Veteran's Affairs Hospital) we came to his room and lo and behold the other man who was sick in his room was a member of the church. He was in bad shape and looked like he was in his 90's and looked unconscious strewn out on his bed with various tubes going in and out over his body and a towel over his eyes and nose. As we gave the blessing to the less-active member and said "Amen." the old man in bad shape piped up and said a loud "A-A-A-MEN!" We looked over and sure enough he had been listening to us the whole time! We then went over and found out he was a member and he asked if we'd give him a blessing and so we did.----this all happened about two weeks ago. So two days ago we went and saw the less-active member and as we were visiting he told us how the old man who had been with him in the same room had recovered and went home! What a wonderful experience!

Don't ever let yourself come to a point in your life where you no longer believe that miracles happen, THEY DO happen and we should always be ready to either participate or witness them. Miracles are the product of faith.

Moroni 10:24

And now I speak unto all the ends of the earth that if the day cometh that the power and gifts of God shall be done away among you, it shall be abecause of bunbelief.<-------Just Believe!

Mormon 9:19-21

And if there were amiracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he bchangeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles.

And the reason why he ceaseth to do amiracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should btrust.

Behold, I say unto you that whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, awhatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him; and this bpromise is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth.

We can have the same experiences of those that happened in the Book of Mormon. Those men are not more special or better or more loved that they are the only ones who can experience such miraculous manifestations. God is a God of miracles and we can witness them if we but BELIEVE and with nothing doubting they can and will happen. I believe and I know it. The pioneers saw angels and saw healings and miracles all the time! Why should it be different in our day? We need almost more in this day and age where the righteous are surrounded by the works of the adversary on a hourly basis. Is it because we have too much knowledge? Is it because we know more than they did? Is it because we are stronger than them? I say unto you; Nay. I know that these things happen, we as members of the true Church should be striving to be worthy, to have the faith necessary, to believe, and to trust in God in order for miracles to happen. Paul said that,"the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power." We have men that hold the Priesthood of God, we should be blessing others with it and be ever ready to produce miracles and be an example demonstrating that power (upon the principles of righteousness of course) and when the time comes and it will come when we'll be in a situation where a miracle must be produced and heaven must be called upon by us and we must be ready to do so! Let us always believe in miracles and continue trying to build our faith until we can come to a knowledge as did the Brother of Jared.

Elder Blackburn :)

Another great meal for two awesome Elders! Thank you for sharing your stripling warriors with us!

This picture came from the Bishop of the Ward where Elder Blackburn is serving - another nice surprise (tender mercy) for parents.

Monday, June 10, 2013

1 Nephi 1:20
"...Behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith to make them mighty..."

This week has been a delightful one full of good experiences. During the middle of the week I got a phone call from someone and I couldn't tell who it was, after an awkward little conversation the person let me know that it was a member from Centerton where I had served... He let me know that they were coming down to Fayetteville the following day and wanted to take us out to lunch. It was awesome, we had some good BBQ sandwiches and chatted and it was just wonderful. We also have two baptisms this Saturday so we are praying that things will work out. This week I have spent a lot of time pondering deeply about my mission thus far and where I am right now spiritually/characteristically. As I was doing so I decided to set some goals and rededicate myself to the work/to becoming a better person/to continually improving and I learned some valuable lessons that perhaps might be of benefit to you reading this.

Lesson 1:
Salvation/Happiness/Peace lies in doing/living the simple doctrines of the Gospel

Surprisingly enough, the "Seminary Answers" are very true and if followed will assure our personal progression and give us many rich blessings. Those being:

Reading our scriptures daily
Praying daily (morning and night at the least)
Going to Church
Keeping the Commandments

Magnifying our callingsIf we truly live those points with the right spirit (with a --->"perfect brightness of hope and a love of God and of all men") we will never stray away or go inactive (whether spiritually or literally with church attendance).
We will be truly converted.

"Ammon and his brethren, according to the spirit of revelation and of prophecy, and the power of God working miracles in them—yea, I say unto you, as the Lord liveth, as many of the Lamanites as believed in their preaching, and were converted unto the Lord, never did fall away."

As soon as we neglect one of those points or become lazy or too busy for them we begin to quickly forget the spiritual experiences we had, the spirit we felt while doing them, why we were doing them, etc. It will become a chore to us. Knowing the deep doctrine is fun and exciting but it does us no good if we are not sound in following those simple points.

Lesson 2:
The Armor of God is more real than we think.

I have noticed that everyday we, spiritually speaking, wake up "naked". Daily we must clothe ourselves with the Armor of God. Is it any wonder why the General Authorities stress so much the necessity of daily prayer and scripture study? We need to put on the Armor each and every day. If we will just start our day w/a prayer and read the scriptures for 15-30 or however long your schedule allows, the Armor of God is placed on us to protect us throughout the day. Our day will always be better.

Reasons I learned these things:
It is a law that if followed will bring blessings as results. I know for myself if I overlook saying my prayers or scripture reading I have a rough, long, tough day. As a missionary we read daily and pray but for a while I found myself having hard days and tough times and was wondering why? I am doing the simple things why is my day not good? I then realized my problem. I wasn't praying to be sincere but I was merely using "vain repetitions" and my goal was not to converse with my Father in Heaven but to just get it over with, and my scripture reading wasn't very good either, I was just reading to gain knowledge, not studying by faith, or "feasting" upon the words of Christ, or reading to learn or find things that could help me and my investigators improve. As I prayed sincerely that as I studied, I would be opened up to revelation and my mind would be enlightened and as I studying with "full purpose of heart" I found that it worked! I was so amazed. My personal study became so much more effective and I found little nuggets of things I could share and relate to with our less-actives, investigators, etc.

Now at the beginning I shared the "Tender Mercies" scripture because as I began this renewal, I had a few tender mercies. The most impacting one was that 2 days ago we were contacting less-actives in the small town of Elkins (which had yet to be done because our area is very large) and we got the prompting that we oughtta go ahead and do that today. So as we had contacted some people we were in one neighborhood and we decided we should tract it out because many cars were in driveways (which is a good indicator people are home) so we began to tract. As we knocked the door on one house no one answered, so we rang no one answered but I didn't feel like moving so we just waited longer than we usually would at a house with no one answering. A man answered and said "hey I have a brother who's a mormon in Tontitown" (<---that town was in my last area)

His brother is a recent convert as of like 5-6 months ago and me and Elder Hughes would go and see him and his family like twice a week and sometimes he would go on splits with us. He is originally from New York and is in his 50's, sadly he developed cancer last winter but was doing okay when I left Springdale) So the Brother says, "Well, he's actually here right now, do you want to see him?" I said, "You better believe I do!" So he let us in and sure enough there was my friend, but this time his body was frail and very skinny, we chatted happily and I asked him how his treatments and cancer is doing, he said that he is not doing very good and has to do more treatments...after we visited he introduced us to his family (they were having a little party) and as we were leaving the wife of the brother said hey can we say a prayer with you two? We said of course and she asked if I would say it. We all joined in a circle and I blessed the family and this good brother and felt that my heart was going to burn through my shirt with the spirit. As we departed I thanked my Heavenly Father that he would guide me, a missionary who makes mistakes a lot and is just trying to improve, to an old friend and let me say a prayer with him one last time because I'm not sure how much longer he's got to we got back into the car because by this time we needed to be to an appointment, I pulled out a Book of Mormon and read that verse (1 Nephi 1:20) and knew what Nephi was talking about and just felt peace. I know you can have those experiences too. If you feel like you haven't had any spiritual experiences lately, or don't think you're worthy to receive them, just take a personal inventory and rededicate yourself to the Lord and to the Gospel and see where you can be more obedient, more loving, more exact and I promise you that you will feel the spirit more strongly than ever and feel your Heavenly Father's love more fully.

Elder Hayden T. Blackburn

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Tornado warnings and other fun stuff...

"Hello and welcome to channel 2 Weather my name's Elder Blackburn let's take a look at this weather.....well we've got severe thunderstorms moving in and it doesn't look like any funnel clouds are forming....chance of flash floods and strong winds....the storm should be here in about 15 minutes so make sure you're in your 'safe spot'."--------->just a taste of what watching the weather is like down here haha. Last week there were some crazy storms so when it got pretty bad one of the days we booked it down to the a family in the ward) who have a tornado shelter in their backyard. Luckily we didn't have to go down in there and sleep the night but as the storm came over us it was about 11:30pm and so they let us sleep the night in their house. It was fun, like a sleepover. Members on your mission really are an extension of your family. I felt right at home in the bunk bed they let us sleep in. It's been a hectic week with bad weather and zone conference. We had a fabulous zone conference and the main theme of it was the Atonement. I will mail home the chart and you can upload it to the blog or something. President shared the Luke ch. 8 story and said it represented a 'mini-atonement' because Christ felt the healing of just one little lady touch his garment amidst a crowd, so when it talks about Him falling on his face as he is performing the Atonement, that is him feeling everyone's pains, afflictions, temptations, sicknesses, death, infirmities, sins. It is intriguing when you read about how Christ was 'sore amazed' and 'sorrowful unto death' because of the enormity of mankind's burden he was to bear. The load was so heavy that he wanted to die rather than go through with this! He paid a daunting price for us, so we need to always be grateful and use it everyday! He can help us through it all. I don't even want to ponder how many of those 'great drops of blood' that came from every pore were mine...but nonetheless he paid the price for me and I owe him my life. The challenge for me is to do just that. Bow my prideful knees and turn it all over to him. To lay on the altar my whole soul (omni 1:26). This life is a test everyday and trials dot the way. Eternal life and the blessings included are so glorious that we must be tried and tested and proved and refined if we are to receive them. Our Heavenly Father must really love us because he has given us infinite chances to achieve it because of his sons infinite atonement. May we use it to transform our lives.

Elder Blackburn