Monday, December 16, 2013

More critters...

Last week, Elder Blackburn just sent a short note - he was very busy and said they had received up to 8" of snow and since that is unusual, no one knows how to drive in it, so a lot of business and other places were closed.  They are preparing for a baptism on Dec 21st.

Dear Friends and Family,

So we got out of a lesson and saw this huge possum (at least 30 lbs.) eating out of a cat dish and so I cornered it and it was hissing and growling but we just picked it up from the tail and held it and petted they have strong little arms and hands and a way strong tail, I gained a lot of respect for those little critters, they're pretty fearless and have pretty big teeth. Pretty cute though, I'd have one as a pet, they'd be a lot of fun, I wish Vito and Lilly could've seen him and sniffed him.

we are not sure where the bunny came from...Elder Blackburn likes animals, so we are pretty sure this one just jumped right in his lap!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Slowing down time...

Hey crew...well I'm enjoying my time here in this ol' town. Not a whole lot going on here in Mt. Grove I feel like I'm in 1998 or earlier sometimes ha ha. Time goes slower here that's for sure...a person we are teaching recently turned to Moroni 10:3-5 and as they were reading, began to cry and I just sat there and thought, "Wow, it's happening, the Spirit is working on her right in front of me!" It was so neat to sit there and let the Spirit teach. The more and more I teach the more and more I realize that it's all about the Spirit, getting the Spirit to accompany you and be present while you teach, you don't need to be a scholar or have the scriptures all memorized you just need to keep the mission rules, study everyday, and work hard and as you present the lesson the Spirit will teach them what they need to know otherwise you are just teaching to yourself. I guess a proper formula could be this:

Obedience(preparation) + Gospel Knowledge(you need a well for the Spirit to draw from) + Charity(have to love the people) + Spirit(key component can't work without it) = Faith in the person you are teaching and if they act on the commitments then a testimony can begin to grow.

We also had a nice Thanksgiving with some members the Millers, they are a nice couple who are in their 70's. They also had some of their family over so it was fun.

I'm just trying to figure out how to make these last couple months slow down...I'll let you know when I figure that out...seriously it's going by faster each day... cherishing my time out here that's for sure trying to improve those shining moments.

Elder Blackburn

Monday, November 25, 2013

Winter arrives in MO

Hello!'s cold. It's currently raining frozen rain outside. This week went by quickly, we had lots to do. This weekend was the official stake split where West Plains Stake was split from the St. Roberts Stake. Elder Shayne M. Bowen of the Seventy came and gave some great talks. Here are some notes of what he said:
He used a quote by Elder Uchtdorf to be the basis of his talk, "As the world grows darker and
darker, the opportunity for personal revelation will grow greater and greater." Elaborating on that he talked about how we need to make sure we have the spirit with us always so that we can be ready for those moments when personal revelation will come. He then discussed how the wording of the confirmation is "..receive the Holy Ghost..." it shows agency, it is not forced upon you because you can be confirmed a member and have lands laid on your head and still not "receive the Holy Ghost", he said are there places, thoughts, environments, media you know that will make it so you can't receive of the Holy Ghost? Stay away from them.... he then said a statement that I have been really pondering about, "The purpose of life is the Temple." It is so true! The whole reason we are down here is to overcome the flesh and become saints through the Atonement of Christ and the way we do that is by repenting and making covenants with Heavenly Father, but some covenants are so sacred they must be done in Houses of God and without the Temple we could not make those covenants...Moroni when appearing to Joseph Smith told him:

Section 2:
"1 Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.

2 And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers.

3 If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming."

Without the work that goes on in the Temple the earth would be "utterly wasted at his coming." So who shall ascend into the Hill of the Lord? He that hath clean hands and a pure heart and let him go and do Temple work and save his kindred dead and create a link from himself back to Adam. Families are meant to be forever, that scripture confirms that.

Elder Southward (the area authority) told a funny story:
He talked about how he heard on the radio a professional turkey chef was answering questions about how to cook a turkey and someone called in and said, "Is it safe to cook a turkey that's been in the freezer for 26 years?" Caught a little off guard by the question the chef answered, "Well, it probably is okay to eat however it won't taste as good nor have very much nutritional value." They then said, "Well, that's what we figured ourselves so we gave it to the church."

He then used that story to say, do we give the Lord our left overs? or do we give him the best that we got? We need to give him our first fruits our best lamb.

Anyways, the work here is a little slow but it's picking up...we are just so spread out that we go through miles like crazy if we don't have any exchanges.

Talk to ya'll later,
Elder Blackburn

Monday, November 18, 2013


Well, I'm 240 miles away from Tulsa...It is crazy. I hope ya'll are doing good back home! This week was hectic...we had MLC (Missionary Leadership Council) in Tulsa so we had to drive all the way there Monday had meetings then slept at the mission home and then drove all the way back Tuesday night. I am excited to tell you though that a lady we were teaching in Pryor was baptized and a guy from Tulsa that I taught was baptized on Saturday! So awesome! And guess what?! President is allowing us to go to the temple now! YAHOO! We can go with a recent convert and do baptisms once per recent convert. We have one in this area so that means I'll get to go soon, we are in the St. Louis Temple District so I'll be able to go to the St. Louis Temple! I am so excited, I have gone 20 months without the temple so it will be a wonderful thing to enter into that Holy House of the Lord. The work is a little is a process but with diligence, obedience, and member support the work can greatly improve in a matter of a couple weeks. While being interviewed by President Shumway he asked me what my favorite scripture is at the moment (because it changes so much) I shared with him Ether 6:5:

5 And it came to pass that the Lord God caused that there should be a afurious wind blow upon the face of the waters, btowards the promised land; and thus they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind.

The reason I chose this scripture because as I read it I understood it to mean that our Heavenly Father allows us to be tested and tried by challenges, our trials and challenges are like those "furious winds" that aren't there to discourage us or stop us but if endured well actually push us to our individual "promised lands" (i.e they help shape us into the being God designed us to be)

At MLC Sister Shumway talked a lot about strengthening our prayers and really praying with "full energy of heart" it made me evaluate my prayers and see what I need to do to make them more sincere. She said prayer does four things:

1. Gratitude--helps us be thankful for our blessings and see God's hand
2. Guidance--Holy Ghost can help us, "lead us not into temptation..."
3. Confidence--prayer strengthens us, when Christ was atoning in agony he prayed more earnestly
4. Inspiration--way we learn of spiritual truths, revelation

So I encourage ya'll to evaluate your prayers (preach my gospel pg. 95 "personal activity") do your prayers include the following? What can you work on?

a) strong faith
b) full of thanks
c) mind focused on improving
d) actions fulfill prayers
e) focus on today's needs (not repetitious)
f) edifying, refreshing
g) focus on pure thoughts
h) mindful of others
i) Specific
j) the spirit guides the prayer
k)confident that God will answer you

President Shumway talked a lot about being exactly obedient and how if you are willing to keep the small seemingly "stupid" commandments (for us missionaries: keeping the part in our hair, texting out of zone to other missionaries, listening to unapproved music, etc.---for people at home: girls having one piercing in the ear, listening to uplifting music, having Family Home Evening, etc.) then you will be the ones who follow the big commandments when the time comes. "In preparation of the Lord asking you to do the big things, do the little things today."

Love ya'll,
Elder Blackburn

Monday, November 4, 2013

Transferred! Opening up a new Zone

Well the day has come! I am going to the state of Missouri! The "refiner's fire" of the early saints. I have been assigned to open a new zone/stake and will be the first zone leader of this zone the West Plains Zone which comes from the St. Louis Mission.

This transfer was awesome I learned a lot and am excited for this new challenge. Over the weekend we had stake conference and Elder Nash of the Seventy came and attended and spoke. He was so good and he knew his, he just like poured the spirit upon us all. One of the things he most emphatically stated was that families
1) Have daily morning and night prayer as a family
2) Have daily scripture study from the Book of Mormon
3) Have Family Home Evening every Monday night

My new address:

1101 Long Apt. B7
Mountain Grove, MO

138 Days

Hello Family and Friends!

So since yesterday marked my 138 days left, I have begun to read the Doctrine and Covenants backwards (a common practice among missionaries when soon departing), so today I read section 137. I can't really fathom where the time went...but it went and it went fast. I mean this transfer alone has flown by and we have transfer calls on Saturday. As a Zone Leader here in Tulsa we are constantly running errands or doing some sort of duty, so I have been pretty tired these last couple of weeks.

We have been teaching two Golden families, oh my goodness it has been so much fun to teach them and watch them progress. One family found and started learning about it and asked for the missionaries to bring by a book of Mormon... not only have they read most of the Book of Mormon but also books from Deseret Book and watched most of the videos on including all of "The District" and "Prophet of the Restoration"...another part-member family we are teaching is looking forward to a baptism on November 16th!

Oh my what a wonderful thing it is to help people come unto God and learn of true doctrines that are sweet above all that is sweet! I am so grateful to have a testimony of this church and this gospel and to know that Jesus Christ leads this church. It makes me so sad that people can't see how plain and precious are gospel is...All one must do is read and pray about the Book of Mormon to know if this is Christ's true church. It is fail-proof, if they ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, they will know by the spirit that this is the true church. To say I am grateful to be a member of this Church and to have been born into it would not begin to explain express my feelings. I am happy beyond measure, what did I do in the premortal realms to be born to such wonderful parents into such a wonderful family, to be born where I was born, to have the talents that I have, to be born into the true and living church? God has blessed me so much! What is so wonderful is that these blessings are not limited to me! They are free for EVERYONE, the parable of the laborers by Jesus shows that it is not a matter of when you get there but IF you get there. All those blessings mentioned above will avail me no good if I am not faithful to my covenants, they will have been a waste if I do not keep my promises to God and obey his commandments, thus someone less fortunate than I can reach higher that myself if I do not do my part. Many of the poor and humble will be exalted above the wealthy, popular, powerful people of this life because they chose to accept the Gospel and live the commandments. Thus the first shall be last and the last shall be first. So many blessings await us in the next life if we are but faithful! Reconcile yourselves to the will of God, 2 Nephi 10:24.

We are here in Mortality to learn that wickedness is not happiness and that God's way is the way to life, truth, happiness, joy, and peace. Alma 34:32.

1 Corinthians 2:9

Elder Blackburn

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A short note...

Wow, that was a fast week...each week seems to be going faster and last Preparation day was super fun we went to the Tulsa Zoo, we watched a chimpanzee throw dirt at the zookeeper and saw many other fun animals...the only downside was that it was pouring rain the whole time so we mostly stayed in the indoor exhibits which were this week I had to go down and exchange with the Henryetta Elders, it's about an hour and a half drive down there and as I was with them we went to a visit people and had a great time...

Elder Blackburn

*Elder Blackburn has met several people who share our last name so we are going to do some genealogy to see if we are related...



Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Good times in Tulsa

Well this week was awesome! We had MLC (Missionary Leadership Council) at the mission home and it was amazing. There's nothing like sitting at the feet of your mission president and feel the powerful spirit that he has. He spoke on many things but mostly on how we need to make sure we have the basic doctrines down and how we need to look, listen, and feel the spirit (he gave some scriptures describing those points but I don't have my notebook with me...We had a baptism on Saturday as well and it went great! Also we had a good Zone Training Meeting and Elder Tauteoli gave a farewell/last words of advice, talk to the Zone (he leaves at the end of this transfer) and he said to remember these three things always...

1) Don't push away the ones that love you most.
He then talked about the people of Ammon and how they had to bury their weapons and how we need to ask ourselves if we are still holding some weapons of war, whether it be disobedience, bad characteristics that halt our spiritual progress, etc.
2) Faith Precedes the Miracle
We've got to believe that we are the Lord's representatives because we are and that anything our President says is as if the Lord is speaking it.
And we do everything because of the Atonement ---> Matt. 26:36-39
3) We were meant to swim in "deep waters"
D&C 127:2
We were built for our challenges and struggles.

After hearing his final words it made me reflect on what I would share when I was near the end or what words of advice I would leave with future missionaries, members, etc.

1) I have learned a great lesson of what matters most in life, and that is the gospel and family. If we are constantly choosing the right and making the gospel the center of our lives we will never go astray and I wish in High School/College I would have spent more time with the family than worrying about trying to go at every spare moment and "hang-out". Although friends are fun and good memories are sometimes made...most of the time it is just a waste...spend time with the people you are sealed to for eternity! I think Heavenly Father cares more about the strength of our relationship and the time we spend with our parents and siblings than the strength of our relationship and time spent with our friends.

2) Do not take sacred things for granted. As soon as I entered the MTC and the gravity of going on a mission hit me I realized quickly that I had taken much---if not all---of what I had for granted, before my mission scriptures, church, temples, prophets, were all normal things to me and were part of everyday life <---they should never become "normal" or "usual" to us. We should revere and cherish the scriptures studying from them everyday! What strength and protection come from reading the words of the prophets! Church each Sunday is not to be instructed, to be entertained, etc. it is a time of worship where we go to partake of the sacrament and pay our devotions to the Most High. I look back and I often did not keep it holy...playing video games, watching tv, watching pg-13 movies, doing homework...I have much to make up for, for my lack of reverence. Temples are so sacred, so precious, I have been without one for 19 months and I yearn for the first chance to go to the Holy House of God...What power and blessings are given to us as we work for the salvation of others as well as for ourselves!

3) Small things have great impacts, often unseen. We might think that it is okay to watch a movie even though it "only has a few bad parts" or listen to profane music because it is considered "edited" or "clean" yet still gets the message of the song across, but those things and that type of thinking can lead us to forbidden paths and can be detrimental. Only view and listen to edfying things, if it is bad then turn it off! Music that is vulgar profane, or unedifying in anyway; Movies that are indecent, crude, innapropriate, etc....they just have no part in the gospel of Jesus Christ and they slow down our spiritual progression. Take a serious inventory of the Pg-13 movies you possess and ask yourself: if the Savior was here would he watch it with you? Does the movie leave you with greater faith? Should Pg-13 movies hold a part in the life of a Latter-Day Saint? Does this song invite the spirit? Does it run the spirit away? What am I thinking as I listen to this song? What does it make me want to do, serve or sin? <---all questions to be asked. I encourage you to do so. (video games included...)

4) The small and simple things of the gospel are the most important.
Daily Prayer
Daily Scripture Study
Daily Acts of Service
Daily Temple Worthiness
Paying Tithing
Going to Church
*if these things are done you will find strength, happiness, and more blessings than you have room for. Don't believe me? It's in the scriptures!

I have learned so many wonderful valuable lessons, and those are just a start to some of them. I have loved serving so much because my eyes have been opened and I now see. I am so thankful that I get 2 whole years of intense spiritual growth and service. It is shaping me and setting the foundation for the rest of my life!

Elder Blackburn

Monday, October 7, 2013

Thoughts on General Conference and other items

A note from the parents: after the morning session of General Conference on Saturday, we received a text that included the picture below - typical Hayden, hanging out with the little kids...they seem to love him no matter the area!

It is crazy how fast the days are ticking by...when missionaries get to day 138 the tradition is to begin to read the Doctrine and Covenants backwards until section 1 while they are on the plane ride home, so that will be fun to start. Only five more fast sundays until I'm home....weird. That's fun Henry went to Homecoming! Are ya'll doing anything fun for his birthday today? ---besides buying the prince whatever he wants ha ha. How is Hallie doing with tennis? Is Rosarito very sketchy? You know, with all the drug gangs and stuff? My last companion Elder White he is from Escondito, CA and said he would go down for the day in Mexico to watch american movies and eat food for super cheap. Conference was pretty good! We watched most of the sessions at member's homes and just the Sunday morning session at the church...I absolutely LOVED the morning session on Sunday, the spirit was so strong and President Monson's talk just made me cry the whole time...We spend quite a bit of the time with other missionaries but we still get to do missionary work in our area...when I moved apartments there was like no food in this one so until I could buy food I had a meal that consisted of: Hot chocolate, instant pistachio pudding, and canned peach halves....thought you might get a kick out of me eating like a homeless person...ha ha today we have MLC Missionary Leadership Conference at the Mission Home, it's where all the zone leaders and sister training leaders come together at President's house and have one big two day meeting, should be pretty fun.

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

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Howdy Y'all

We had an awesome week and taught a bunch of lessons...more than I have ever taught in a week on my mission. It has been good and we are working with a lot of people, mostly less-actives. Our mission Pres is super hard working and always tells us that he can outwork any of us and always says, "We're so good, I don't know why we aren't better." He is a down-to-business kinda guy and really stresses our obedience and diligence as missionaries. I feel that he knows each of us and knows me personally pretty well too, he thinks I'm really funny for some reason...but I feel like he also trusts me too. He is a good guy and his wife, Sister Shumway, is just super sweet and nice and reminds me of having a mom out here. They're like our "substitute parents" while we are out here.
We were all in zombie mode yesterday because we are just so wore out from working non-stop, it is great to be in a trio because we only need one person to come with us and we can split up and hit double the appointments. I like our ward mission leader Brother Gephard, the german, I went with him on splits and while I was with him he taught me all the names of the farm animals in german. This email isn't going to be super long I apologize for that....just remember Mosiah 2:41---if we keep the commandments the Lord will bless us temporally and spiritually and we will some day dwell with him in a state of never ending happiness. What a great scripture.

Elder Blackburn

Monday, August 19, 2013

Great new companions and time at the rodeo...

At the Rodeo with some good Amish folks...
The "super Trio" doing good works in Pryor, OK

So transfers came and now I'm in a pretty small town...not much in it at all...but I have the two coolest companions okay get this...

Elder White--been out 3 months, from San Diego, convert to the church in October 2011, used to be a huge punk has a bunch of tattoos and is the only member in his family. He is so awesome, wants to be 100% obedient and is the nicest guy ever, he still has holes in his ears from his gauges he used to wear. It is so awesome to have him because he relates with EVERYONE. He is very diligent and hardworking and does not take anything for granted because each aspect of the gospel/missionary work means so much to him. He's is going to work me into the ground and I'm so excited to have a companion who wants to do just that.

Elder Gallegos--been out 4 days, headed to the Floranopolis, Brazil Mission, knows Spanish and English and can speak like 75% Portuguese. He is pretty much a professional soccer player, played for the Mexico National team and for the Houston Dynamo academy. He chose to give up playing internationally to go on a mission and focus more on the gospel. He is teaching me Portuguese and we read the Book of Mormon in Portuguese at night together. He is mi amigo.

So pretty much I have the two coolest companions ever...and I top the trio off by just being a goofy kid from Utah...

The small town that we are serving in used to be a senior couple area for the past 4 years, and are happy to have elders. The success Elder White's been having already has been super good and we know we can teach and baptize many.

The first full day we were out here a less active family took us to the small outlying town of "Locust Grove" to see a rodeo. I really like the 'calf-roping' portion of the rodeo. The bucking bronco and bull riding is pretty intense but it can be VERY dangerous. So I think if I ever did rodeo it would be cattle roping for sure.

At transfer point an elder came up to me who was brand new to the mission and told me that as soon as he got his mission call he searched on Google and found my blog and read every single article on it and told me that he enjoyed it a lot and it was a big part of what made him want to come out here, and that meeting me was like meeting a celebrity. I was super flattered and just stunned that someone actually took the time to read what I have been writing. So it was a major boost to me to hear him say those nice things to me.

It was hard to say goodbye to Fayetteville...I gave tie I had that was golden colored to

my "Golden Investigator" ha ha

------>Lately I've been studying in the Book of Ether (because that's where I am at right now) and I found a lot of scriptures that hadn't caught my attention before (<--- I love when that happens, you catch yourself going "What? how did I miss that before?" or "who's been adding scriptures in here?" ha ha)

In Ether 2: 23-25 it portrays a classic example of how revelation and problem-solving through prayer works.

The Brother of Jared prays and says please don't suffer us to go across the ocean in darkness and the Lord responds, " What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels?" He knows what the answers are already and what needs to be done but he gives the Brother of Jared some hints first and then lets him figure it out himself. He says "Hey you can't have windows they'd break to pieces and you can't have fire, so go figure out what needs to be done and then come to me with what you have found out and we'll make it work" Heavenly Father wants to help us and can help us but he expects us to do all we can first. He is not there to solve our problems for us. That's why we are here on Earth, to have problems and figure them out ourselves while working with the Lord. So through pondering, study, thought, and action on those thoughts, we come up with and take our solutions we have come up with to the Lord for confirmation. And if what we have done is good than he will grant us what we need. So the Brother of Jared makes the stones and then offers a very humble prayer at the beginning of Ether Ch. 3 and asks for the final touch to his solution to the problem of not having light for the vessels. And in the process has so much faith that the Lord will help him that he sees Christ and no longer has faith because he knew, nothing doubting. He says though that we can have that experience too, check out Ether 4:7, 15.

Since there are three of us we have given ourselves the nickname of being the "3 Nephites" ha

This Church is true, Jesus is the Christ, Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God, the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and President Monson is a prophet of God and holds all the keys of the Priesthood on Earth to officiate and administrate the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our day. What a blessing to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Love you all,
Elder Blackburn

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


After 14 amazing months I am getting transferred to Oklahoma...

my new address is:

3279 Oakwood Rd Apt. B

Pryor, OK

Arkansas has been so wonderful to me, it will be hard for me to leave it :')

So this week will be full of goodbyes and so longs! This ward has been my favorite thus far and I have made so many friends. I will definitely be visiting Fayetteville, AR again someday. The week went okay, just contacting a lot of less-actives and helping with different service projects. We introduced our newest member to his new home teachers and they told him how strong the spirit was being around him and how happy he looked - this Brother then told us how he had been searching for a church for a couple of years and had come to the conclusion that none of the churches he had been to were the true church and then we showed up and showed him the way. I just couldn't believe the words he was saying, he was actually someone prepared to hear the gospel and I had had the opportunity to teach and bring him into the fold. It will be super tough to say goodbye with him...I wrote him a card (well, I wrote lots of people little 'thank you' cards) and in his card I told him that he has been a major part of my experience here in Fayetteville and in my mission as a whole. I also thanked him for preparing himself and for taking the invitation to be baptized and for strengthening my testimony. I can truly say without any doubt that the Lord is preparing people for the gospel. What a joy it is to serve!

Elder Blackburn

Monday, August 5, 2013

Testimony of truths around us...

Hey! Not much has happened this week just another fun, hard week. I am so excited for Hannah and Mitch to get married this Saturday...I'm pretty sad I will miss out on the fun experience! And wow Hannah's been through the temple now huh? That's crazy...tell her to write me about what she thought of it/her experience. It has been really rainy the past month, this summer has been a hundred times better than last summer...(last summer it was in the 100's for like a month) but this summer it has been in the 80's upper 70's and lots of rain so I have just loved it! The reason I'm writing so late is because the Prairie Grove Elders (Elder Porter and Andra) came up early to eat breakfast with us and study and workout so we are all hanging out today! Tell Elder Porter's parents that he is doing so awesome!!! I love having him up here, It's a party ever P-day... I hope you send me a million pics of the wedding/festivities, where are they going for their honeymoon? I am oblivious to what's going on...Oh well. The other day we were helping at the Palmer's farm and we were picking blackberries and I just had a duh! moment. As I was eating a few and just enjoying myself I just thought wow, why would a plant just make a sweet, life sustaining fruit/vegetable? It makes no sense other than for the use of man. Everything has been divinely designed by a loving Heavenly Father for our use and to make one happy. He truly does love us. He makes wonderful animals, from loving dogs to working horses to pollinating bees to song singing birds to meat bearing/milk making cattle to tasty fish, to trees for making buildings and furniture to plants that make beautiful flowers to plants that bear fruit, to plants that bear medicinal herbs, EVERYTHING is there for our betterment.

Alma 30:44
44 But Alma said unto him: Thou hast had signs enough; will ye tempt your God? Will ye say, Show unto me a sign, when ye have the testimony of aall these thy brethren, and also all the holy prophets? The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and call things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator.

We are so lucky to have the knowledge that we are the children of the of the Supreme Creator. For the Spirit beareth witness with our spirits that we are the children of God and if children than heirs; heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, if so be that we suffer with him that we may be also glorified together. <---is Romans 8:16-17

This Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ has to be true, how else can a boy like me find joy and become happy just by reading a book about some group called the Nephites?...It has to be true..if it were not I would not be enlightened by it, yet I am, if it were not true I would not feel the spirit, yet I do, if it were not true I would not have a hope of the future, yet I have hope, if it were not true it would not make me a better person, yet it does. The Book of Mormon truly is the keystone of our religion and if one wants to solidify their testimony of the church all one has to do is gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon and if it be true than all else is. And if that is not enough you can prove God with a single doctrine (such as prayer, tithing, church attendance, etc.) and see if he will not open the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing that you may not have room enough to receive it. Isn't that amazing we can test God to see if an aspect of the Gospel is true or not! What other religion says for you to test God and find out for yourself? If the Book of Mormon is true, we can rest assured that it is all true. I am so grateful for my testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and the Prophet Joseph Smith. He was a prophet and the Book is true! The Book of Mormon is unlike anything else, you get what you put into it, so if you want a strong testimony, give it disciplined reading and all your concentration as you read and study it. I promise if you do this you will become converted to the truth and never fall away just as the Anti-Nephi-Lehi's were.

Alma 23:6

6 And as sure as the Lord liveth, so sure as many as believed, or as many as were brought to the knowledge of the truth, through the preaching of 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.


Elder Blackburn

Monday, July 29, 2013

Missions are the best!

As you saw from the picture, we had a wonderful, wonderful baptism this last Saturday. What made it even more special is that we had it at the Prairie Grove building (so it would be closer for everyone instead of going to the Stake Center) and Prairie Grove is Elder Porter's area so he was able to stay at the baptism and him and his companion were the witnesses for it. (Not too many people showed up because the whole ward is out of town vacationing before school starts...) So it felt like in the old days what a baptism would of been like when the church only had a few members , but it was just so neat to have Elder Porter there to be a witness for one of the baptisms on my mission. How cool/wonderful/amazing is that? That a friend from home could come out here to Arkansas and serve right by me and be a witness for one of my baptisms and share with me in that wonderful experience! I was so happy, we gave each other a big hug afterwards. It was such a joyful moment. Pure joy. He is such a good Elder, man he has grown so much, he has always been a good kid but he is really shining out here. I am so grateful Heavenly Father sent him out here with me. It was the icing on the cake. The spirit was so strong and ... I can't try to describe it...I know I would not be able to do justice. Just know that it was a most wonderful experience.
The morning of the baptism the Palmer's had there annual Pioneer Party at their house which consists of petting their donkey's, big pioneer stilts made out of boards of wood, standing on a stump tug of war where you try and get the other person to lose their balance and fall off by tugging and releasing the rope, stick pull, high jump (where you see who can jump the highest), and just fun little games like that. So the rest of the week doesn't hold a candle to Saturday's events...

Elder Blackburn

Missions are the best!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Thoughts on Faith and the Future...

First off the baptism had to be postponed to this Saturday the 27th...It will work out, I know it will. This week has been pretty eventful I had to go on exchanges with some Elders from my district and then go on exchanges with the Zone Leaders. While I was on exchanges with the Elders from my district we went and visited a returning less active and I had such a heartwarming experience. I didn't know the guy and so we went into the lesson with the idea just to read some Preach My Gospel with him. (---because he is 23 and wants to prepare to go on a mission) but as we were visiting with him I got the thought to show a Mormon Message with him...(I have a DVD of Mormon Messages and I love to use it while teaching to get a point across, they are great visual aids) I showed the one where Elder Bowen talks about how in Idaho Falls a landfill was reclaimed into a beautiful park and how Heavenly Father can help us reclaim our souls. He talks about how he has lived in Idaho Falls his whole life and how it would be absurd to go and try to dig up the trash that he's contributed, it would be a sad sight to tear up this beautiful park just to dig up some old garbage. He compares it with ourselves and says there is no need to go back into the past and dig up old garbage when the Atonement has healed us. I then testified to the young man that no matter what we have done in the past if we have truly repented there is no need to hurt ourselves or discourage ourselves by digging up old garbage or dwelling on mistakes that we made in the past. I told him that we can change and we can become the child of God he wants us to become. After that he started to get tears in his eyes and thanked me for coming today because that's exactly what he needed to hear. He explained how he had made many mistakes in his life and was often depressed because he was constantly being reminding himself about them and could not let them go or believe he could change. After coming out of that visit I was just so happy to have been a clean vessel for the Holy Ghost to whisper to me what this young man needed, I love those moments when you realize you had been following a prompting.

But I love that concept of the Gospel that we can as individuals change and repent and become a new creature born again of God. I am so grateful for the Atonement that allows me to become the Son of God I was designed to be. So, with that thought I plead with you not to dwell on days now gone, nor to yearn vainly for yesterdays, however good those yesterdays may have been. The past is to be learned from but not lived in. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead.

From Elder Holland's talk "Remember Lot's Wife" He makes so many good points on this:

"we remember that faith is always pointed toward the future. Faith always has to do with blessings and truths and events that will yet be efficacious in our lives. So a more theological way to talk about Lot’s wife is to say that she did not have faith. She doubted the Lord’s ability to give her something better than she already had. Apparently she thought—fatally, as it turned out—that nothing that lay ahead could possibly be as good as those moments she was leaving behind"

To yearn to go back to a world that cannot be lived in now; to be perennially dissatisfied with present circumstances and have only dismal views of the future; to miss the here-and-now-and-tomorrow because we are so trapped in the there-and-then-and-yesterday—these are some of the sins, if we may call them that, of Lot’s wife.

One of my favorite books of the New Testament is Paul’s too-seldom-read letter to the Philippians. After reviewing the very privileged and rewarding life of his early years—his birthright, his education, his standing in the Jewish community—Paul says that all of that was nothing (“dung” he calls it) compared to his conversion to Christianity. He says, and I paraphrase: “I have stopped rhapsodizing about ‘the good old days’ and now eagerly look toward the future ‘that I may apprehend that for which Christ apprehended me.’” Then comes this verse:

This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. [Philippians 3:13–14]

No Lot’s wife here. No looking back at Sodom and Gomorrah here. Paul knows it is out there in the future, up ahead wherever heaven is taking us where we will win “the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

At this point, let me pause and add a lesson that applies both in your own life and also in the lives of others. There is something in us, at least in too many of us, that particularly fails to forgive and forget earlier mistakes in life—either mistakes we ourselves have made or the mistakes of others. That is not good. It is not Christian. It stands in terrible opposition to the grandeur and majesty of the Atonement of Christ. To be tied to earlier mistakes—our own or other people’s—is the worst kind of wallowing in the past from which we are called to cease and desist.That happens in marriages, too, and in other relationships we have. I can’t tell you the number of couples I have counseled who, when they are deeply hurt or even just deeply stressed, reach farther and farther into the past to find yet a bigger brick to throw through the window “pain” of their marriage. When something is over and done with, when it has been repented of as fully as it can be repented of, when life has moved on as it should and a lot of other wonderfully good things have happened since then, it is not right to go back and open up some ancient wound that the Son of God Himself died trying to heal.

Let people repent. Let people grow. Believe that people can change and improve. Is that faith? Yes! Is that hope? Yes! Is it charity? Yes! Above all, it is charity, the pure love of Christ. If something is buried in the past, leave it buried. Don’t keep going back with your little sand pail and beach shovel to dig it up, wave it around, and then throw it at someone, saying, “Hey! Do you remember this?” Splat"

I encourage you to read all of that talk.

I LOVE this talk. Because as a missionary I have struggled with my past mistakes and wonder a lot if I'm worthy to be the Lord's representative and if I'm worthy to follow promptings or perform miracles but I know that through repentance I have been changed and reclaimed and I don't need to dig up old garbage and destroy what is beautiful, I can focus my energy and strength towards becoming the priesthood man I want to become. Lately I have started feeling the spirit stronger because I am trying harder to press forward and not back. That is why I have loved my mission it has been a real "refiner's fire" for me and I have been able to overcome many obstacles and challenges. I have truly been awakened to the sense of my own "nothingness" and I like King Lamoni's father wish to give up "all my sins" to know my Heavenly Father better and realize the blessings I have taken for granted, the wonderful circumstances in which I have been born and raised, and the many marvelous experiences and opportunities I have been able to have. And because of the Atonement and repentance I can press forward and forget my past self and immerse myself in the task of becoming a true disciple of Christ. The restored gospel allows not just me but all of us to enjoy this! Isn't that remarkable? Doesn't that make you happy? To know that you can be forgiven of mistakes that you have made and move on. I thank Heavenly Father for my testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Because it is true and it makes me happy. It gives me joy amidst this world of chaos, uncertainty, terror, wickedness, etc. because my foundation is anchored upon the rock of my Redeemer, which is Christ the Lord.


Elder Blackburn

Monday, July 15, 2013

Another Arkansas Adventure

So this week was pretty eventful...Our mission president just sent an email that said we can't change our dress standards until he reviews them but I have not heard anything on the dress standards changing yet...Any who, we got a flat tire in our car this week and had to change that, which was exciting...we also biked 23 miles down (Oh my heck it was hot...) to the little town of Winslow to teach our golden investigator. He had his baptismal interview yesterday and is good to go for this Saturday! I am so excited this is my first golden investigator and first person taught - and baptized in 3 weeks. Pretty incredible. We had a lesson the other day with him and he said the closing prayer and thanked Heavenly Father for "...sending these messengers to teach me the truth..." and my heart just wanted to burn through my shirt...Oh what joy fills a missionary's heart when words like those are said. Man I love this job!

I'll let you know how it all goes.

Sorry this email is short and sweet.

Elder Blackburn

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Picture from a recent Zone Conference

You can all probably find Hayden - the other missionary from our Ward, Jacob Porter is now in the same Zone...he is pictured fourth from the right on the second row.

Monday, July 8, 2013

A message from the youth in the south...

Howdy Ya'll.....

This week started off a little rough---we had to drop a lot of our "non-progressing investigators" so that we could focus more on finding new ones to fill our time with. We proceeded to tract and stop by less-actives but for some reason no one was really receptive to us. So after a couple of days of what I call "Cranberry days" (---because our fruits are small) we decided to just go do some good ol' farm work down at the Palmer's in Winslow. Nothing makes you feel better then a good long day spent visiting people and working on the farm. Service for us missionaries is vital, I think it is vital because it rejuvenates us from the "regular routine" that can sometimes dull the senses and dampen ones spirits if ones efforts seem small. Our Golden investigator is still doing amazing, he has a baptism set for the 20th of this month! I am so excited! Such a blessing. We had testimony meeting yesterday as you know, and the youth of this ward are so amazing. One of them talked about how they went to EFY at Mizzou (University of Missouri) and the kids that went were all kind of the "heroes" of their towns (because these kids were the only Mormons in their school and stuff like that, because in the south there aren't very many members and the kids that went to this were from the southern states) and so they were thrilled to see how many mormons there are! And how at night his group would just stay up for hours talking about how much they love the gospel and how amazing the Book of Mormon is. After his testimony I just wanted to go and give him my missionary tag and be like, "You got this bro." because these youth just amaze me. They don't take any priesthood duty for granted or think it is a "chore" to read the Book of Mormon. They do it because they LOVE it. After looking back on my experience as a deacon, teacher, priest and going to seminary in Utah the youth could really learn from these youth what it means to be an example, what it means to stand alone, what it means to do your duty, what it means to serve. Elder Marvin J. Ashton gave a really good talk entitled, "Carry your cross." and he speaks about how one of those crosses we might be asked to bear is "the cross of living amongst many mormons", many people in the audience laughed but he told them how it really is a challenge. It saddens me how that is true...I know his statement is true because I've seen it myself. Be that example, in Utah you have the unique opportunity of being an example to other mormons and standing alone although you are surrounded by other members of the same faith, show them what it means to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the true church of God on Earth. What a privilege! What a miraculous thing it is! We live in the time that all the ancient prophets sacrificed their lives for! We live in the time that gave them all the hope to continue! Don't let them down and don't take it for granted.
After hearing this youth's testimony it made me realize that happiness is a state of mind and it is all about your attitude...just as we choose eternal life or eternal damnation we choose to be happy or sad or mad, Just as God gave us the muscles to smile, he gave us the muscles to frown So choose to be happy!

Elder Blackburn

Elder B's "scripture"

Chapter 1

Elder Blackburn looks back on hardships and realizes that he has witnessed many great miracles - he finds a golden investigator and rejoices in the goodness of God. He is happy to still have a good 8 months left to continue the work of the Lord.

1. At the commencement of the 16th month of the mission of Elder Blackburn, it came to pass that there had been much hardships and much trials, and my soul was weighed down with much sorrow. But these things ought not to be, for I had also been shown the mysteries of God and received many blessings that brought my soul great joy, for I knew that my hope was in his redeemer.

2. And it came to pass that I remembered the promises made unto me that if I would serve God with all his heart, might, mind and strength I would be able to stand blameless at the last day and layeth up salvation unto my soul. For behold, the promises are true and the Lord hath blessed me and given me strength and given me knowledge. For I have studied the scriptures diligently and fasted and prayed many days that I might help my fellow brethren in the land of Arkansas come unto a knowledge of the Gospel and not hearken unto the traditions of their fathers, and behold, when I speaketh, I speaketh with power and authority given unto me from the Lord.

3. And it came to pass that I was pondering my mission and it seemeth unto me that serving in Kansas was many ages ago and that it hath been many years since that time, but it hath been only a year, I feel I have grown so much and learned so much that behold, my heart is full with joy and with the promises of Eternal Life and the mercy and grace of our Lord.

4. And it came to pass that as I pondered these things I was carried away in the thoughts of all the wonderful people I have thus far met and what joy brings these memories to my soul that my heart burneth within me. For I have met many wonderful members that have shown much love unto me. For in my days of affliction they have lifted my arms that hang low and also the Spirit of the Lord for he truly is the great Comforter. And I have also I have seen many come unto the Lord and witnessed many miracles and been convinced of my nothingness I have let the Lord lead me and held his hand and followed as a child doth follow their parent.

5. And it came to pass that I had a great experience...

Ha ha that was fun... so the "great experience" was that this past week a member told us he had a neighbor that would like to take the discussions so we went down, met the guy, and taught him the first lesson and it went perfectly. He had good questions, the spirit was strong, the member that referred him was there and bore a strong testimony, it was perfect. Later that week we did some service which was fun, gotta get in some grubs and do some good work (seriously missionaries love service) and we got to mow and saw some old limbs off trees...just some good 'ol yard work. Afterwards, we taught him the Plan of Salvation and you want to know what he said after we taught him it? Well, I tell you, he said the best words ever, "I have wondered since I was 9 or 10 why I am here on Earth and what my purpose is...and now I know." I couldn't believe I was actually having that "perfect missionary discussion" it was like right out of a script! It couldn't have been more perfect. He also came to church yesterday. We are so excited to continue to teach him.

Well, that's all I got this week, until next time...

Elder Blackburn

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

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Safe from the storms and in good spirits...

Guess who saw Elder Porter??? This guy!!! I saw him at Transfer Point and we hugged and talked, it was so good to see an old friend from home... that storm last week blew through and it was pretty scary! The sirens were blaring and it was pouring rain and hail, etc. Luckily no funnel clouds touched down near us, so we were fine.

This week as usual we did a lot of tracting and contacting Less-Actives. A member in the ward came up with a great idea that we are going to implement soon. This member created a flyer for us and it says

"Missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints will be in your neighborhood on this date at this time to answer questions such as:
1. Who was Joseph Smith?
2. What is the Book of Mormon?
3. How families can be together forever and not "til death do you part."
4. And the purpose of life.

if you would like to set up an appointment in advance here is our number"

So kind of like that. We'll hand those out to a neighborhood and then go back at the time we scheduled and that way the people know when we'll be coming by and separates the wheat from the tares early and those that will listen or have questions will be home or call us. So we are excited to see how it works.


Many a time I oft find myself discussing the issue of authority with a member of another faith, or a pastor. There is a question I like to pose to them:

---> Where and how did you gain your authority to minister or where did your pastor gain his authority?

They tell me "Oh, he got it or I got it from graduating from a bible school." or "I felt as a child compelled to become a minister so I apprenticed a pastor or decided to start my own church."

I have yet to have a response that tells me they received it by the hand of a prophet or from God himself or an angel. There are many scriptures that help point us in the right direction about the Priesthood:

>Hebrews 5:4---one must be called of God as was Aaron, Aaron was called by a Prophet of God and ordained at his hand.

>1 Corinthians 4:20----the kingdom of God is not found in scripture but in the authority which would result in having a prophet and the authority to perform ordinances thus creating the kingdom of God.

>Acts 1:22---witnesses were ordained

>John 15:16---apostles were chosen and ordained

>Matthew 16:19---God's power only can seal things on Earth and it Heaven

I am thrilled to think I hold the Priesthood, that I'm an Elder. It's as if I hold a sacred heirloom from God passed down all the way to me and that if I stay worthy of it, God through me can bless others around me and it can change me to be the man of God he wants me to be. I'm thankful our Heavenly Father trusts us with such a gift, with such a power. Whenever I give something special to someone I always hope they treat it with care and respect, and that it is used. He must feel the same way, he is giving imperfect mortals his power and authority and I am sure he hopes and wishes all of his sons that receive it, treat it special and act like they are priesthood holders.


I can't speak about the Priesthood without speaking about the second half of it, which is motherhood. I heard a good quote the other day from a sister in the ward giving a talk about how she wasn't married until she was 37 and how when she asked her husband if he was still willing to have kids (because she really wanted to have children and be a mother and he already had kids) and her husband said the greatest statement,

"Denying a woman motherhood, would be like denying a man the priesthood."

So very true. I have heard that the Priesthood can't function without Women and that the family can't function without a loving Mother or the Priesthood. So you must have both. I think there is such a special bond between a mom and a child. They get the privilege of housing God's spirits and to raise and care for them. Every child owes their life to their mother. Mother's have a special penetrating love that can be felt in a hug, or a kiss on an owie, or in a homemade lunch, or in a little note, or in loving counsel, or in chaperoning teenagers around. They do everything for their child's well-being often neglecting their own time for their children.

Of course there are instances where parents use their agency contrary to Heavenly Father's plan and neglect their duties or treat their children with hostility and cruelty, but my prayer is that we can have love at home and if you are or were raised in those type of circumstances I hope you can forgive them and turn and raise a family in the way you wished to have been raised. I bet it is very hard, for I know not what it is like, but I do know that God loves us all and that the Atonement covers all.

I have been extremely blessed to have been raised by a worthy priesthood holder and a wonderful loving mother. I am who I am because of them.

Elder Blackburn

Monday, May 20, 2013

Staying in Fayetteville

Hello family and friends, 

Transfer calls came and I am staying here in Fayetteville for a little bit longer. However, Elder Archibald is getting transferred to Broken Arrow, OK. My new companion is going to be Elder Rose. And guess what?! Elder Porter is getting transferred real close to me! He's going to Prairie Grove, AR! I am thrilled that I will be able to see an old friend from home. Who would've thought that many years ago that me and Jakey Porter would be all grown up and serving together. What a joy! (for those of you who do not know the story here..Elder Porter and Elder Blackburn are from the same ward and grew up about a block away from each other)
Yes, I have heard of the severe weather going through the midwest right now. Hold on to your seats and get in those tornado shelters folks, it's gonna be a bad one! We have entered the Tornado season so they're beginning to tear through the midwest. I'm safe though, Arkansas steers clear most of the time from the crazy storms. This week was a good ol' week filled with countless hours finding people to teach. Many miles walked and many doors knocked and being so exhausted by night that when it is time to go to sleep that as soon as my head hits the pillow, I'm fast asleep. This week while tracting we found some potentials and am excited to try by them again. We are teaching a small group of investigators and my favorite investigator owns a french bull dog named Dexter. Our objective is to get him (not the dog) to church. I think that is that hardest for investigators just to come to church.  


While talking with people at the door or on the street many people are confused and don't see the need for some of our doctrine or can't understand how we got/"came up" with those ideas or say, "that's not talked about it the bible!" Well, many churches claim to just follow the bible and that's it. And that's about as far as they get. Let me illustrate an example that will explain my point: If the world were to destroy every bible on the earth, how many churches would remain? One. And that one is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That is because our doctrine doesn't come from just reading the Bible, it comes from revelation. Every other church just reads the bible and tries to follow it or mimic it but ultimately they end up just preaching the same information over and over and nothing really happens. Luckily for Latter-day saints we have Prophets and Apostles and continuing revelation that builds "Line upon line and precept upon precept." Our gospel knowledge is increasing as we understand the doctrines Heavenly Father has allowed us to have. Our doctrine can be found in the bible but we don't need the bible for our church to function properly. That may sound rash but if you think about it, Heavenly Father revealed everything we need anew. He gave the Creation accounts in the revelations known as the books of Moses and Abraham, he gave us the Doctrine and Covenants which outlines every priesthood office, how the church works, how and why we do ordinances, revelation on ordinances, specifics on the plan of salvation, clarifies bible passages, the need for temples etc. etc. and then the Book of Mormon is our testament of Jesus Christ and his relation to us and that he is the Savior of the world and atoned for our sins and it is through him we are saved; it also testifies of the prophet Joseph Smith. We don't need the Bible to uphold our doctrine, we teach as missionaries that the Book of Mormon is the KEYSTONE of our religion. And this is all supported by Christ when he tells Peter that upon this Rock (which is the principle of revelation) I will build my church. Revelation is absolutely necessary in Christ's church. The Book of Mormon as our keystone represents that principle of revelation because if that book is true, everything else is. You need not worry. Just follow the Prophet, he will never lead us astray. Isn't it miraculous that we members are part of the True and Living Church? We live in a time where there is a Prophet of God leading us! We live in the time that all the ancient prophets testified of: The Dispensation of the Fulness of Times! We are part of the "Restitution of All things."

Elder Blackburn