Sunday, April 29, 2012

Rescuing the one...

We wanted to include a part of Hayden's letter that we received yesterday.  He was able to attend his first Zone Conference (Joplin Zone) and this was a story his Mission President told them...this is word for word from his letter - he must have taken good notes...

President Merkley flew airline carriers for FedEx and his co-pilot was a Vietnam air pilot.  His job was to fly first over enemy territory and make the shoot at him so he could target them and have bombers take them out.  Over a certain area they shot him and he almost lost control but maintained his plane but it was upside down, he was trying to get into friendly territory but he came into some jaggedy mountains that made him lose his position and he started losing complete control and had to parachute out - he snagged in the thick canopy - usually they only give pilots one radio and one pistol but he wanted two radios and a .357 magnum pistol.  So as he was falling/parachuting out he tried calling home base but dropped the radio!  He then snagged into the thick canopy and had to cut himself down quick because he could hear and see the torches of the Viet Cong approaching.  He cut himself down and landed with a crunch and saw that he had broken his 2nd radio, scared out of his mind he took off running and tripped over something, it was the radio he had dropped!  He grabbed it and hid behind a big fern and some rocks and watched as the Viet Cong searched for him.  They came within 15 ft but kept moving but off in the distance (the sun was setting) the sun reflected off these 2 eyes, animal eyes and as the enemy left, this creature came right up to him, he couldn't see it but it was right in front of him, he could hear it breathing so he held his pistol right at it and thought "okay, if I shoot it the enemy will know where I am, but if I wait, it could kill me", but all of a sudden the enemy was back looking.  Then they left and the animal came back and it was like this all night, at times he felt just like crying.  But they both left and he was able to call base with his radio and they had a plan ready for his rescue.  He would need to make it to this hill and they would bomb a path for him through the jungle - while doing this, the Marines and Army would make a diversion for him to run.  They bombed more than the whole WWII bombings all for just this one soul, he made it to the top of the hill and the helicopter (known as the Jolly Green Giant) was hovering - but as he approached, they had to ask him some questions - like what is your Mother's maiden name, first dog's name, etc. like the questions for your bank account, ya know?  Well he had forgotten and so the pilot told him sorry they couldn't pick him up - well this pilot is not a member so he started screaming profanities at them and they said only an American pilot would cuss like that!  The helicopter started taking heavy fire so they dropped down this bullet thing meant to get people through the thick canopy (attached to a cable).  They didn't have time to pull him up so they told him to hang on as they flew through the trees!  They made it out and had a big celebration in Thailand for him and he bought presents for everyone on the helocopter - he said it was the happiest he'd ever been because he didn't think he'd see his family again.  He isn't religious but he said he thinks going to Heaven will be an even better homecoming.l  Isn't that a cool story?  Before Pres Merkley shared this, he talked to us about the 99 and Christ going and getting the one sheep.  Christ usually hung around the sinners and poor people and people thought he was dumb for doing that, but Christ said when he brought a sheep back, or a sinner, "rejoice with me for I have found my sheep" :)

See D&C 18:10, 15-16

Anyways, I thought you might wanna see what I learned!
Love you all,
Elder Blackburn

Monday, April 23, 2012

Kansas and the critters...

Dear Family and Friends and Dogs and Grandmas :)

"It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood and How's my family doing? Kansas is such a funny place I can't help but to always smile just because it is so...different. ha ha This week was sa-weet! We picked up 3 new investigators and taught some awesome lessons! This week we didn't have the car so we seriously biked like 25 miles... I'm am memorizing scriptures like nobody's business! I love Doctrine and Covenants, my gosh, it is simply amazing, I took so much for granted at home that now out on a mission I am realizing how the Book of Mormon is amazing (truly remarkable), the Sacrament is so special and sacred (so sacred), loving everyone really lets you feel of God's love, never judge anybody we all have the same divine potential and heritage, and smile at the people who yell things/throw things from their cars at you...I included some pictures - one is a little gorilla statue that EVERYONE has in their yard because of Pitt State ha they are cool. And a cardinal - they are everywhere, also little cottontail rabbits are everywhere ha. We saw a coyote like five feet away the other day too, we were turning up from a pretty wooded country area and there was a coyote right in front of us! ha anyways I miss the mountains a lot. It's interesting how being on a mission really lets you know what is important in life, sheesh, I am learning so much about myself and about the kind of person I want to become. Only a mission can help us boys turn into men. It is really eye opening. I have never felt closer to my Heavenly Father than now...We are teaching a lot of people and visiting lots of less actives... I am getting to know a lot of people of this area. While tracting we picked up about 7 potential investigators who we are going to visit this week and are teaching 3 people right now. Well this is Elder Blackburn signing out of this weeks edition of 'Kansas Missionary Moments', until next time, we'll see ya."

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A few belated pictures...

Hayden sent a few more pictures from the MTC, the airport when they left SLC and the mission home in Tulsa.

The picture at the MTC is with an Elder that played football at Utah State but will play for BYU when he returns - they became good friends... they also look like they could be brothers.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Settling in and working hard in SE Kansas...

Dear Family and Friends,
"The work out here is progressing! We are working so hard and I am loving it out here. So much has happened since last week. I have given so many blessings it is hard to believe but I have confidence in the Lord and he has really spoken through me (Doctrine and Covenants 9) We tract and knock doors all the time! I love knocking doors - I really feel like it works. We also go around town and just talk to people, a lot of interesting folks around here but it's all good! We work close with the Bishop and WML and try to see as many less actives as we can. When we visit Less Actives we try to resolve their concerns and teach them the importance of the sacrament and it seems to be working. It is an early Tornado season so we are on our toes! Most days it's just nice, sunny, and breezy. But then a huge storm will rush in and pour rain for a day. The rain storms out here are ridiculous but they are fun. We are really working hard to meet less actives, find new investigators, and teach our progressing investigators....A Ward member gave us the best BBQ sauce ever! Oh my it is so good. I put it on everything: meat, beans, soup, cereal, apples, milk. haha just kidding...My bike came and it is way nice! Wow. I'm like Lance Armstrong out here doing the tour de Kansas haha. Even though I've only been out about a month, I feel like I've learned more in this month than in my whole life. It seems like I've been out a year already. I'm keeping a really good journal, and taping little things in here and there. It's fun to think that a lot of my friends are out on their missions right now and we're all doing the Lord's work in different places. It's not really that humid out here, yet. They say once it becomes summer then the humidity really hits. It's really easy to start sweating too ha but my body is adjusting to it. Everyone around here is obsessed with them (Pitt State) and Kansas University so I already have a Jay Hawks shirt. I'm so tired at the end of the day...which is good but whoo! Mission work is pretty tiring. I love knowing: I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ and am a Latter-day Saint, the knowledge of the Restored Gospel, and for the testimony I have about this work. I can walk confident knowing that I can give people the truth that can change their lives and help them come unto Christ. Well have a good week, I miss ya'll but I have to work because my time is short to work."
A boy from Centerville, Utah who is located somewhere in Southeast Kansas surrounded amidst Hicks, Small town folk, a lot of old fellar's, farmers, and hard workers. I love them all and am trying to bring them unto Christ. :)

Elder Blackburn

Monday, April 9, 2012

First email from the field!

Last Friday we received an email from the company we bought Hayden's bike from saying it had shipped to Pittsburg Kansas.  A quick internet search told us it is a town of about 20,000 and home to PSU, a State University about two hours North of Tulsa.  So Elder Blackburn is in Pittsburg, Kansas in the Tulsa, Oklahoma Mission...pretty funny.

Hey Family and Friends how ya'll doin'?
"So I have now basically completed my first week (almost) and it has been pretty awesome. At first it was hard to accept that a lot of people around here do not want to here about the gospel but I have learned my main duties in this area and they are to
1. reactivate A LOT of less actives
2. strengthen the ward in whatever way possible
3. Contact tract and baptize
The Elders who were in this area left us an old outdated area book and drop book so we are going through those and trying to update it and contact those who want to learn. Kansas is a crazy area haha this town is old, lots and lots of trees and grass, tons of squirrels and rabbits and birds, everything is super green, and there are like no sidewalks ha ha. I like this town though...We are focusing a lot of our contacting at PSU's campus, we meet a lot of students and it is a fairly big university. Everyone around here is obsessed with Pitt State. So yesterday was Easter Sunday and I gave a talk about the atonement and it was awesome! The Ward covers two counties, 30 by 60 miles is the boundary, but only like 20 people come to church... but the Ward member list is like 15 pages!!! So we really have to prioritize because we need to reactivate, find new investigators, and visit active members ha so we have a lot of work to do which is good...the missionaries in Parsons, Kansas told us how the town had a prayer circle so the Mormons would leave the town... Some parts we're liked and others, not so much. Me and my MtC buddies are all spread out but I hope to be companions with at least one of them by the time my missions up. I can tell it is going to go by's weird how time works on a mission: days drag by, weeks zoom by, and months fly by. I love the members in the Ward that are active it's just a matter of getting the less actives to come...Always remember Christ lives and leads our church and he'll never let us down."

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

At the airport

Around 6:30AM this morning (Wed April 4th) we received a text from a nice man who snapped this picture of the departing Elders.  Hayden then called us from a pay phone a few minutes later.  He said he loved the MTC but was getting anxious and is glad to be heading out to the field.  He has a two-hour layover in Dallas where they had several large tornadoes and severe weather, but it didn't appear that any flights had been cancelled.  He sounded great and promised to check in again during their layover.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Summary of letters and emails from the MTC

March 14th - "I really enjoyed my first day here! The spirit is everywhere and everyone is a missionary so it is really cool!  My companion is from Minnesota, he is really smart and we already get along well.  I loved getting my nametag, Elder Blackburn, we aren't allowed to call anyone dude or just their lastname, everything is Elder and Sister.  I have zero time on my own which is fine but the schedule is pretty strict.  The food is stop Oklahoma.  PS read 1 Cor 13:11"

March 15th -  "Day two is now over and I have already grown soooo much!  I have literally gone from a boy to a man overnight.  I love my comp and my district - I am excited to learn everything!  My Branch Pres had us promise to never have our hands in our pockets and to obey with exactness.  I love obeying."

March 20th - email - Today is my first P-day so I finally get to email you all. Wow a week has already gone by although it feels like I have been in here a year already. We do all sorts of stuff here, class like all day long, teach investigators, go to devotionals, etc. I have already learned so much here it is amazing! I feel like I have learned more about myself and the gospel then my whole life up to my mission. It is like trying to drink out of a fire hydrant haha waking up @ 6:30 is the only hard part about this place. We pray like 50 times a day and sing a million hymns and it's awesome! I think the reason I have learned so much is because he is always teaching me. I want to go out and preach soooo bad now. I love to teach people. The doctrine of Christ is amazing, check out 2 Nephi 31. Our purpose as missionaries is 'to invite others to come unto Christ by recieving the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and his atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the holy ghost, and enduring to the end'. The Book of Mormon helps convert members and is the keystone to our religion because if you read it and feel the spirit then it proves Joseph Smith was a prophet and has the authority that prophets of old had which means the Church is true and people can be baptized by the same authority Christ was baptized by. It is so awesome!!!! the gospel rocks!

March 24th - "I love the MTC if you can't tell already.  I love being a missionary and the gospel is amazing - we went to the Provo Temple yesterday, very pretty!"  D&C 112: 10-11

March 27th - email - you would be proud! On the pants of my gray suit one of the legs were not hemmed so I hemmed them myself and took pictures so you can see for yourself. Last Tuesday night was pretty cool, Dallin H. Oaks came and talked to us about the Sacrament and how we need and can have the spirit to be with us. It was awesome, the spirit was so strong. The days here are all starting to morph together it's weird time is so different it seems. It goes so slow at times (we have 6 hours of class in the same room) and fast. Class is actually pretty fun and I'm learning like crazy! I keep everyone laughing with my fake crying and different goofy things I do. We teach a lot of "investigators" during the day and I put investigators in quotations because some are fake and some are real. I love teaching them. Back in the day (like dad's day) they had to memorize the discussions but now it is preach the gospel by the spirit so we really learn how to find their needs and then teach them accordingly. We're like spiritual Sherlock Holmes in a sense haha. We teach them the lesson we feel can connect to them the most and hopefully can get them to have a spiritual experience of their own where they can have the Spirit testify of the truthfulness of our message. Here is a quote I'll leave ya with "if it is an honor to do something for an Earthly King why is it a sacrifice to do something for our Heavenly King?"

March 28th - "Big news...I was chosen to be the travel leader for the group of us Elders flying to Tulsa - there are eight of us.  We leave at 4AM Wed morning then our flight to Dallas is at 7:50AM.  We get to Dallas at 11:30AM and have 2 hours to hang out there so we are gonna preach!!!  I love going up to random people and giving them a message of the restored gospel.  I am also Zone Leader for my Zone here at the MTC so I help to train the new Elders that come in and talk with the Branch Pres, that sort of stuff.
Read, Read, Read the scriptures!
Love you all."

March 30th - "I'm almost outta this place...Elder David Archuleta is here now, whoop-dee-doo ha ha. So I see him around - it's a little weird seeing him but no one really cares, pretty neat that he chose to serve; he is really short
Anyways, love you all!"

April 3rd - email - Good bye MTC...

"Wasn't General Conference amazing?
I loved watching it here at the MTC, nothing like sitting in uncomfortable chairs for 10 hours! Ha the messages overall seemed to have a family theme to them. I really enjoyed Uchtdorf's talk on the spirit of contention and to just STOP IT if we have those negative feelings. I also thought Russell M. Nelson's and Ronald A. Rasband's talks were so wonderful on families and how we can learn so many important lessons from those that have to go through this life with imperfect bodies. I loved the Scottish Elder's talk (David S. Baxter) he had some good quotes "In God's kingdom there are no second class citizens" it's true we are all important to our Heavenly Father and all have the capability to be exalted so we must not judge. After conference we had a fireside and Vai Sikahema came! He is the BYU football star who served a mission and went to the NFL and is a sports broadcaster for NBC. He gave an awesome talk on how he taught this husband and wife who were baptized and because of that their little kids were baptized and sealed in the temple to their spouses when they grew up and how it just keeps on blessing that family. It was a spiritual/inspiring packed weekend!
I came a boy with a testimony and am leaving a man truly converted! I am going to talk to everyone at the airport, I love spreading the gospel!"
Elder Blackburn

Entering the MTC  March 14, 2012

 Beautiful Spring day across from the MTC at the Provo Temple

Handing over the keys to the truck...we hope Henry can learn to drive a stick!

 We were hoping to see a friendly face at the curb...and we did...

Elder Justin Allen...Hayden's friend and fellow soccer player who is headed to South Korea


One last hug for Mom...
and he's off for two years! 

Setting Apart March 13, 2012

Last Family Outing   Jazz Game   March 12, 2012

The Farewell - March 15, 2012

Going to the Temple - December 28, 2011

Hayden took out his endowments at the Bountiful Temple.

Hayden was accompanied by his parents, grandparents, an aunt and uncles.
Exhausted after a big day...

Opening the Call         November 2, 2011

On November 11, Hayden's friends and family gathered to see him open his call. Todd made a huge map of the world (and Hallie decorated it) so everyone could make their guess as to where he would be called. Hannah arrived home about forty five minutes before Hayden and announced she knew exactly where he would be going...Oklahoma. When Hayden opened his call and announced he was going to the Tulsa Oklahoma mission we all thought he was teasing his sister and wanted to know where he was really going. Turns out she was right!