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