Monday, September 30, 2013

Good times in the mission field

That is great that you enjoyed (Gen Womens) Conference. I LOVE conference, absolutely the best two days. Tulsa is a really cool city, I like it a lot. Lots of fun things to do and has everything you want/need. 

I went to this store called "Burlington's" and was looking at dress shoes (because I didn't want to wear my normal church shoes to meetings) and I came across some nice ones and as I was checking them out I noticed the tongue had been ripped (but I knew I could fix it with some duct tape) so I went to the front desk and they let me have them for 9$! They were originally like 30$ marked down from 70$ so I am pretty pleased with can't even tell. And I had to go get another ingrown toenail fixed...I keep getting them and they are super companion Elder Rupp is a cool kid I knew him before my mission surprisingly enough so we joke it is destiny that we are together. You see, he was in my "Mission Prep" class at USU and we got to know each other a little I remember when he got his call and announced to the class "Tulsa, Oklahoma Spanish speaking" and then I got my call we wondered if we'd see each other/serve together and here we are 2 years later ha ha. He is from Boise, ID. We get along great. I was pretty bummed to leave Pryor though...The Lord really knows where to send you and I came to the realization that the Lord sends us where certain members, companions, mission president, are going to influence us the most and I can truly testify that, that is so true. I have met so many wonderful members that have had a very deep impact on me, I see many good examples and it motivates me to want to be like them when I am older and how I want my family to be or how I want to better serve. In Pryor there was this family within the in the ward boundaries that I grew close to and taught several of their family members....they say I could be part of their family because of my dark skin (The Grandpa is 3/4 Cherokee) He is a big bear, 6 foot 3 and shoulders broad as a door...and as I said goodbye to him he just teared up and said, "Elder Blackburn, thank you for all that you have done for my family, I will never forget you, and when you go home you can tell people of the good work you have done for my family." As I gave them both big hugs and waved goodbye from the car and drove off I went home and just cried! I realized how grateful I am to be in this mission and to be here, now at this time, and the great work that I get to help in. I just had a moment where I knew everything was right, Heavenly Father is there and he knows me. He knows me and what I need. And that has been the greatest lesson I think that I have learned as a missionary. We truly are all brothers and sisters of God and I get the privilege to help them come back to him. I never knew I had so much family out here :) so now I am in Tulsa and the journey continues.

Elder Blackburn

Monday, September 23, 2013

Transferred to Tulsa!

Elder Blackburn sent us a quick note today - it looks like he is being transferred into the city.  About an hour after receiving the short email below Todd received a call from an OK area code.  It was Elder Gallegos who has been in the trio with Hayden for the past month or so.  Elder Gallegos received his visa and is headed to Brazil.  He and Hayden became good friends and plan on visiting each other when they are both home.

Hey I'm getting transferred to Mingo Valley Ward in Tulsa, OK I will be a zone leader! So I'm pretty excited, here's my new address:

9714 E 73rd St apt. 211
Tulsa, OK

Six months to go!

Hello Everybody! Well, Saturday marked 18 months. It is incredible how fast time has gone by, I'm sure that is one statement missionaries make all the time because it is true! Time is speeding up and I just received an Email from my buddy Nick Smith who just got home. It was great, he emailed me some pictures and told me what he's up to. I remember being at his farewell and telling him he'd be home in no time! ... I have loved every minute out here and it is shocking to think that some of my friends have finished their two years already! Life never slows down.

Jacob 7:26

26 "And it came to pass that I, Jacob, began to be old; and the record of this people being kept on the other plates of Nephi, wherefore, I conclude this record, declaring that I have written according to the best of my knowledge, by saying that the time passed away with us, and also our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream..."

This week we decided that instead of teaching a lot of lessons to people that weren't really interested in progressing, we would instead hunt out the elect. So we tracted and visited old potentials and stopped by less-actives that we had yet to meet. It proved successful and we found a lot of new contacts that we are excited to work with. We drove wayyyy out to a small town called Locust Grove and tried finding some people and at one address we had took us to this old trailer house (there are lots of these around this area) that was disheveled and when we approached the door the guy living there got to the door faster than we did and told us promptly to, "Leave Now!" So we just turned around and got back into the car. We have also been teaching this investigator who is married to a member, the members parents and two other brothers live in the ward as well and one of the sons was recently activated and sealed to his wife who was baptized in 2011 and they are such a good example to the investigator and her husband. And yesterday the investigator and husband (who's a less-active member) came to church with their family and it was just so wonderful to see how happy the rest of their family was, it was so heart-warming! I love when less-actives come back to church and when investigators come! Best feeling! Elder Gallegos got his visa so he heads off to Brazil next Monday :(... We have transfer calls this Saturday so I will let you know if I'm staying or leaving.
As we were driving around yesterday I saw a white German shepherd and told Elder Gallegos, "Look a wolf!" and Elder White said, "Ya, Elder Gallegos that's a Oklahoma desert wolf they're super rare." and so Elder Gallegos was like, "No way let me take a picture of it with my camera." So as he was taking a picture the dog started coming over to the car and Elder Gallegos was scared and was like "Go!Go!Go!" and then we told him that it was just a dog ha ha. It was funny. This ward is very small but has great potential so we are really just trying to bring people back to church and building it up and making it what Heavenly Father intended it to be. The few members that come are excellent but we have a lot of less-actives in the area that need a loving nudge to come back to the fold.

Elder Blackburn

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A good week

Hello Everyone,

We had a good week and taught a lot of lessons. Our area is an entire county so we cover a lot of miles. We borrowed some from the sisters and in turn we told them we'd make them cookies so last week before a meeting Elder Gallegos and Elder White made cookies while I was in the shower and I came out and looked in the oven and said "Are you baking potatoes?" Turns out those were the cookies and they didn't add any butter and had too much flour...those cookies got an A for effort though...not for looks or taste though ha ha. We were teaching this 14 year old girl in a trailer park in the middle of a forest and I was sitting there and I looked down and saw a band of ticks making their way up my white shirt and I quickly scrambled up and started flicking them off and then lifted up my pant legs and saw them making their way up my legs too! Elder Gallegos (who is easily freaked out by stuff like that) saw he had them on him as well and we just ran for the car and doused ourselves in bug spray and helped each other flick off the enemy bugs. Later that night I checked and didn't have any on me but Elder White and Gallegos were finding them and pulling them off all night. We also went to the county fair and watched a Less active members daughter show some of their pigs...I wish I would have done FFA... oh well... showing pigs was so fun to watch! I love county fairs and looking at all the prized animals and cows and sheep and chickens and rabbits and ducks and goats. We split up a lot during the week to cover more ground and so me and Elder Gallegos went tracting and found a Hispanic family where he was able to give an entire Restoration lesson in Spanish while I just stood in the background and nodded occasionally saying "Siiiii." And MOM THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THAT WONDERFUL PACKAGE YOU ARE THE BEST! It made my week! I am so blessed to have such a wonderful loving mom. You are the best I love you so much. 

Hayden's Dad had asked him what types of things he hears from others as they try to share the Gospel -

... there is nothing like our Church, it is the greatest organization on the planet! I am so happy to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, where all questions are answered, where priesthood power is exercised, where temple ordinances are performed, where families are sealed together forever, where revelation is received by a living prophet, where Christ is at the head. Elder Holland gave a great talk last General Conference called "Lord, I believe." Read and study that talk. Those men are real apostles.
here are some of the most common things we run into...

1) Don't believe a man must be called and ordained by God by someone who is in authority to act in the priesthood (i.e. priesthood can be gained by scripture study or by an ordination degree from a bible college)

2) All the churches are considered the "Body of Christ" so really if you believe in Christ that's all that's necessary...there's not just one church that is true.

3) Salvation by Grace.... and they'll quote some scriptures on how you just need to believe on the Lord and confess by the mouth and ye shall be saved and works are not necessary. I'm not going to explain this doctrine just see Elder McConkie's address called "What think ye of Salvation by Grace?"

4) There was no Apostasy. Most churches don't really understand this concept at all...but they do understand that all these churches can't be right.

5) The Bible is perfect and that's all we need so we don't need prophets today and in Revelations it says not to add or take away so if you do then your portion will be taken away from the book of life...<---that is one of the most common scriptures people pull on us...for a great explanation on this see President Hunter's address titled "Thou shalt not add or take away."

6) Don't see a need for a restoration and more scripture...

7) Don't believe Book of Mormon is real.

8) Baptism is just a symbol of faith not a covenant.

9) Most people don't understand the Pre-mortal life at all...nor do they really know why they are here or where you are going after you die. (If your good heaven if your bad then it's a lake of hellfire damnation but no one can give you a good clear answer on what to do to make it to heaven besides believe on Christ)

10) Don't understand the need for revelation and revealed truths.

So that's a good start to the things we run into down here in the Bible Belt. It's a lot of fun and people here are extraordinarily friendly because there are lots of just good Christian people that are trying to do their best.

But honestly all one needs to do is read the Book of Mormon with a sincere heart and with faith and those doctrinal points will fizzle away in the background because true doctrine always triumphs.

I love the rest of ya'll too (Dad, Hannah Onkes, Hen, Hallie O' Mallie, Vito and Lilly)

Elder Blackburn II