Sunday, December 22, 2013

December 16, 2013

I had a great week this week haha. I keep saying I am so happy and eventually I had to go to the hospital this last week because I was so happy haha:) At the Christmas conference I started to have heart palpitations and my heart was beating like 200 beats per minute. I blacked out for a bit and went to the Hospital. They heard I came from a Christmas party and thought it happened from too much alcohol and stuff like that and immorality and everything, haha.  Little did they know that we were just singing Hymns earlier and that we teach people not to do all that bad stuff. They then asked me what I was feeling before I had heart palpitations, I told them I was just feeling really happy and just moments before I was explaining to a sister that I feel really happy and then I stood up and then my heart started beating super fast. 

Heart palpitations can be caused by too much stress, too little sleep and things all adding up, they can also be caused by extreme emotions.  We were celebrating Christmas and all missionaries are tired so maybe that is it, haha.  But the medical diagnosis was that I was too happy and my heart couldn't take the happiness, haha. The emotional force of my joy was too great and created a hyped level of heart beats. So that's a pretty awesome story:)

I hope that will convince someone to share the gospel more because that's just what happens, haha. You get too happy. They also told me not to drink coffee, or alcohol and stay away from women for a while to help me heal and I laughed because they don't really have to worry about that. 

The family we are teaching and I have been sharing about is so amazing. They just keep coming to church and loving it more and more. They are really excited for Baptism and are working hard together. They stopped drinking coffee and alcohol and tea and I am just amazed how every principle we teach they accept openly and lovingly, excited for the blessings that we promise them. They keep reminding us about their Baptism. We were teaching a new investigator yesterday and we asked Him why is it important to know that the Gospel is true. He then opened up and shared how He really wanted to know who Jesus Christ was:) Then my companion and I looked at each other and smiled and said in our minds "Yes!! He is ready!"  and then continued teaching and shared John 17:3 and that by knowing Him He will also find Eternal life. WE explained how to get to know Him and how to pray and it was just so awesome. All missionaries need or actually all the Lord needs is that we ask a sincere question, just like Joseph Smith and it allows the whole gospel to be unfolded unto us:)
We know that all it takes is a sincere desire to know and that eventually He will find His answer:) 
Love, Elder Blackham

Friday, December 20, 2013

December 9, 2013

 THis week was great:) The blessings and success just keep coming, sometimes we have no idea how we are going to reach the goal but we just say to ourselves, that it doesn't matter the odds, what matters is the faith:) We just put the nose to the grinder and it all works out in the end:) 

There is a family we are teaching that is so incredible, every time we teach a lesson everything goes wrong. The baby starts crying, neighbors are yelling and partying and its so hard to focus and so loud. But no matter how bad it goes in my view it goes so great to the family and when we come back they remembered everything and are keeping the commitments and testifying on how it is changing their family. They came to church as a whole family and brought friends and extended family and loved it. It just shows how powerful the spirit is:) It is the spirit that touches peoples hearts as they strive to live the gospel and keep commitments.

It doesn't really matter how good the lesson went as long as they read, or pray as a family they will receive the blessings of the gospel. The gospel will have no effect on you until you begin to live it. So no matter the principles we teach or how we teach;  the more important is that they act and try it, then they will know. The blessings of the gospel are not something taught they are things and experiences that are caught through living it and having the Holy Ghost testify of its truthfulness to us. No one will ever be converted to the gospel without living it. That's why if you try to convince someone the gospel is true through telling someone, they can just say, "No its not, haha. But once they try it,you don't even really need to say anything because they will know it. As missionaries we just need to get out of the way of the spirit. Plan commitments first and then plan on what to teach to help them keep commitments, and you might see a lot more conversion:) 

In my gospel studies I was studying about charity in the 7th chapter of Moroni. I was wondering why all things must fail except for charity. I was thinking, "what that's not fair to virtue or to other good things." So I pondered it and thought about it and I realized that charity is the motive behind the other principles, and the sincerity of it. In Romans 13:10 it says that love is the fulfillment of the law. We cant just keep Gods laws, we also have to keep Gods laws and be happy about it and sincere and do it because we love. Other wise it wont benefit us and it will fail. For example if everything went Satan's way we would be forced to do everything and we could not choose to follow God out of Love and freedom and choice. All of our obedience means nothing and we wouldn't learn anything.  We couldn't prove anything or grow. In God's plan we learn to obey because we love Him, then we truly gain the blessings, because it is an act of our own agency and free will. We must learn to do what Christ does while thinking and feeling the way He thinks and feels. That is what charity is. That is why in verse 48 it says we will be like Him because we have not only acted like Him and obeyed but we learned to feel like He does and think Like Him. :) This does not mean that we shouldn't obey any commandment we don't want to, it means we obey them because we Love God. As we live the commandments out of our own free will and choice our love will increase and we will learn that only when we obey can we gain that thinking, and feeling that Christ has:) 

Love, Elder Blackham

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

December 2, 2013

Over here we had an amazing thanksgiving:) We taught really great lessons and were able to help people come closer to the Savior. We are just having the time of our lives preaching the gospel here:) Just giving it our 100% all.

We had a couple families we are teaching show up to church and it was so amazing! They loved it and we taught them later that day and they thanked us for sharing the gospel with them. I am so grateful too and I looked at their whole family smiling at Elder Montejo and me and I couldn't help but to tear up:) The spirit was so strong as we testified of the restoration and they are reading and praying as a family and it just doesn't get any better than that. 

This man that came up to us on the street is so cool too and is so excited to be baptized and change his life:) All these things are just miracles in my eyes and I love to serve the Lord, there really isn't anyone else worth serving, because when you serve others you are also serving the Lord:) 

As far as things that I learned this week I learned a lot about the gift of discernment by reading a talk by Elder Bednar called "Quick to Observe". It really expounds on the blessings of this gift and how it can be used and how there are 4 main things or ways we use discernment. The most valuable ones are the ways we recognize good and evil within ourselves. I learned how to better recognize my thoughts and feelings to realize if my perspectives or very thoughts were in line with God or not. It really helped me feel the spirit in greater measure and recognize the things I can do better. I am really trying to learn to use it so I can recognize and help bring about the good in others and in myself. He said that this is the highest form of discernment and not just recognizing the hidden concern in statements or distinguishing the falsehood in something but to recognize truthfulness in a testimony, or in our own testimony. We need to see the good intents of others or in ourselves:) It really helped me teach and listen better:) The church is true:) 

Love Elder Blackham

November 24, 2013

Dear Mom,

This week was another great week. We really took a leap of faith setting the goals we did and it just keeps working out in the end. Every time we start the week its a big leap of faith. I am seeing so many miracles and I love helping the Lord. I am really doing my best and I love it:) 

Obedience really is the big test of this life. What's crazy is that we are always blessed more than the sacrifice it takes to obey or let go of something we normally do and exchange it for what the Lord wants. It teaches us to exercise faith and it helps us do what is right. Also sometimes we just really need to just let go. We need to just let go and trust. Take a breath and say whatever happens happens and choose to be happy and just do the Lords will:) 

We have one of the survivor Elders from the Tacloban Mission in our Zone and it is really great to have him.  There really is nothing better than serving others. 

This week one of the biggest things I learned is that we need to have personal time with the Lord everyday. I was getting pretty stressed out because of all we had to do and I was so worried about every person we had to teach and keeping track of all the referrals and all the activities we had to plan for missionaries and training. It was just building up and I started to feel anxiety and it's a lot harder to feel the spirit when you feel like that so it was rough haha. What solves that for me every time is taking a time out and just opening the conference talks, and praying and listening to Heavenly Father. That quiet time or personal time just gets me back in order and helps me just trust and do things one step at a time:) Especially that talk called being accepted by the Lord. We all just need to have personal time with Him everyday, and just ponder His will and ours, our standing and what He would say to us for that day.

I know that the Church is true and I keep getting witnesses all the time that it is in the name of Jesus Christ Amen:) 

Elder Blackham

Monday, November 25, 2013

November 18, 2013

Things are going great here:) Another amazing week with even more help and blessings from the ward. It is just an absolute miracle and I am so so amazed at how things are going. We are completely safe over here and there is no clean up or anything from the typhoon, it happened on a different island but there are a lot of families here that are from that island and havent heard from their family and it actually has helped us get into some doors because of the plan of salvation and people have kind of gained a greater understanding of the reality that life is so short and they want to know the plan of salvation so that a good thing:)

My companion's name is Elder Montejo and his family was on the island that got hit by the storm but he heard that his family is safe. We are staying busy and that probably helps so that he doesn't dwell on his family.

There really is nothing better than teaching by the spirit. We are contacting lots of people and starting to see this area bloom and blossom into a beautiful tree spring unto everlasting life. I know that sounds cheezy but that really is a good way to describe. All the members come up to us and set appointments with us so that they can introduce us to their friends, man this is so so so so so so so so so so so so so much better than tracting and the people are so so so so much more receptive. and they already have a friend in the church which means they won't fall away, this is just so great.

As we taught most of our lessons this week we really discerned that most people we taught don't really know God. As I use my list of questions of the soul to begin teaching the number one questions lately have been, is there a God? and does He know me? Its the best feeling to help someone understand that there is a God and to help them pray and sincerely talk to HIm for the first time. We taught this 18 year old boy with no parents to take care of him and he is normally so quiet and shy but his face lit up as we read scriptures and assured him and testified that God knows him and loves him. He can get to know God even more every day. In general conference it was said more than once that the most precious thing is our relationship with God. I know this to be true. It brings peace direction and help and is the very source of revelation, which without revelation all would be darkness and guesswork. 

I was reading in Moroni 7 about every good thing and how every good thing comes from Christ or else no good thing could come to man because they are naturally fallen. By faith in Christ we lay hold upon every good thing. If we lay hold upon every good thing and reject it not we will surely become a child of Christ. It makes me so happy to think that all the pretty colors I ever see, every smile I ever smile every good thought and good feeling comes because of Christ's atonement for us. BY faith in Him we understand the source of all good and we cant become or lay hold upon good without letting go of the bad. for example If I always choose good I will not have time to bad, and the bad things I did before will be forsaken by laying hold on every good thing. It really is just a huge process of repentance  Once we find something good or better we let go of the dark and take an extra step into the light and become like Christ and accept the source of all good:) When we accept good or better things we also accept the source from whence it comes:) 

Love, Elder Blackham

Monday, November 18, 2013

November 11, 2013

I was transferred to Taguig. Which is right on the border of the Manila Mission but I am now on the opposite side of Leguna Lake but still on the side of the lake. It just was windy here and a little rain but we didnt get affected by the typhoon that much at all so I am doing great!!:) It is a lot more city here but I love it:) I love this area so much and things just took off running when we got here!! The first couple days we got here we really felt we should visit all the members and just give this area our absolute all and we set a high baptismal goal upon arrival, I know that the cities are well known for being low baptizing areas but who cares this is the Lords work which means we are entitle to His help.  we knew that if we had the faith that we could turn it into just the opposite. All it needs is faith because faith is power and action, and if we use that power which is God's power nothing is impossible because nothing is impossible to Him therefore it is not impossible to us if we use His power. I know we can reach it. I read a talk by Gene R. Cook about faith in Jesus Christ. If we have the hope and set a high goal and look with eager optimism in everything always having faith in Christ on your mind you will achieve so much more than you thought you could. This is really what everyone is searching for in life that really is what everyone is searching for and looking around with faith miracles happen. Just in these few days that we have been here we have gotten 40 referrals which is unheard of. Also the bishop that everyone said was lazy, when we visited He was so excited to get the work going and said that He could see the excitement on our faces as we were walking up to visit Him. the ward and has been giving us families to visit and it has just been the most amazing thing:) Visiting so many family and just in the few days me and my companion Elder Montejo have been here it seems like an outpouring of excitement and the spirit here. This one sister who is not a member and has never known missionaries walked up to us  and said" my husband just died and I am so sad, but I saw you and I think you can help my family" and said to come back on Thursday at 2pm. This is amazing:) Its all because of faith.

If this really what we say it is shouldn't we set our expectations higher. I feel some people live way below the joy and peace and success they could have enjoyed if they would have just believed that they could. That sounds cheesy but it is not when it is applied to the gospel, if we act expecting the Lord to help our actions will increase greatly. Faith is the evidence of things hoped for and not seen. Therefore the greater the hope we have the greater the evidence we will see and create through our actions. Like wind when the wind is strong you can see the flags moving a ton and its obviously manifest that the wind is truly there. If we work with high expectations and hope our actions will also jump to a higher level and the evidence will be great and effect the lives of everyone around you. So to summarize things are going great and I love the challenge to turn this into a fruitful zion:) 

Elder Blackham

(My mom wanted me to post an article about some Sister Missionaries who were in Tacloban. If you want to read it, here is the link )

November 4, 2013

( A few days BEFORE Typhoon Yolanda hit the Philippines)
Transfer day is tomorrow and everything was great here in Angono:) I will miss it so greatly :) I was so blessed to be here and learned so much! Like so so so much and I love learning it really is life changing to learn something new and apply it into your life because every time you do that your life becomes new in a way and better and changes.  I will white wash another area which means both the elders before will leave and my new companion and I will start again. THere is nothing better than change and repentance:) 

Jovie and Grace were baptized on Saturday and confirmed on Sunday and when we visited them that night it touched my heart when they looked at me with sincerity in their eyes and said thank you  Elder; as if to say thank you for my new life as a disciple of Christ. I will always remember that, and Brother Robert named his new dogs after me and that was flattering but we all know it is all the Lord:) He deserves  100% of the credit, I will go my entire life and never convert anyone because it is the spirit that converts people through the Grace and light of Christ:)
This week in the book of Ether I was reading  in the famous chapter 12 when I came upon the verses when it describes that through faith the veil is taken over our eyes and nothing is withheld from us. Imagine how much more simple things we could see if we faithfully walk through each day. 

Also in the Faith in Jesus Christ section of preach my Gospel it says when we have faith in Jesus Christ we look for ways to be more obedient. We show our love for Him by turning completely away from our sins. I know that by removing and finding all of our sins we remove everything that separates us from God:) We must be actively engaged in our own salvation and not just sit and wait for ways to obey more or strive to be comfortable, we should actively move towards God.  I promise there is no greater feeling in the world than feeling the Holy Ghost and knowing that you are accepted of God:) Becoming clean is the simplified way of saying that:) I testify that in the name of Jesus Christ amen:)
Elder Blackham

Sunday, November 10, 2013

October 28, 2013

 Things are going great being here in the vineyard in the Philippines. This last week was a really rough week because we were not able to work hardly at all, Elder Afu was sick on Tuesday and we still pushed in 4 lessons but went home early, then I was sick on Tuesday and then he was sick again on Thursday.  Then on Friday we went to the mission office to take care of some business and that's so far away, and then on Saturday we went to TayTay and then had to weekly plan because we weren't able to on Friday.  Sunday we had tons of meetings with other wards too. Only got in one lesson, so... yea not being able to go out and work is every missionaries night mare. The weight on your shoulders as a servant of the Lord even though your sick just seems to get heavier and the things you need to do just add up. Then it's hard not to get discouraged if someone was not able to progress because you weren't able to visit them and well... you get the point. But the good news is that the church is still true and the atonement was performed for all of us and when you think about that there really is no reason to be sad:). 

I am so excited for this week and all the possibilities. Every day is another chance to meet a new person or maybe even a family that wants to hear about the gospel and come unto Christ and be perfected in Him:) I always say to the new missionary in our apartment "There is nothing better than being a full time missionary, you meet random people you have never met every day and try to get them to change their lives completely" That just sounds so much fun to me, it is a great honor and no greater a cause than this:)
Love Elder Blackham

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

October 21, 2013

The earthquake in the Philippines wasn't close to me at all so I am totally fine:) Two of our investigators with baptismal dates are from that island so their home is totally broken now. but they are still happy and fine and loving the gospel and all that they are learning:) They will be baptized in two weeks and are totally ready right now. 

During sacrament yesterday we confirmed Bro. Lopez a member of the church and gave him the Holy Ghost, it was amazing!! When my companion started the blessing the spirit descended upon us like a thick vapor of light and joy until it filled our entire souls and was one of the greatest witnesses I have felt piercing my soul that this is the true church with the priesthood power on the earth right now. I asked Him how He felt because I was curious if I was the only one and he smiled bigger than I have ever seen with his eyes and soul and said AMAZING!!!:) It was such a blessing to be a part of his conversion.

During my study this week I learned a lot about the effect on us when we remember. Many times in the book of Ether it talks about how the entire kingdom prospered and they grew in favor by remembering what the Lord had done for them. When just a verse earlier it said they were about to be destroyed from off the face of the land.  As we have a mindset of remembering the Lord throughout our day, our actions have such a dramatic change. The same thing happens in marriages when they remember the original love they had for each other they change, and marriages are saved. When we remember all the things our parents do for us, we do not disobey. When we remember the atonement we are blessed with the Holy Ghost and our very natures change as we align ourselves with His will and get rid of the things that separate ourselves from Him. Every time I look at a tree I hope I think about the tree of life, or see things in a much more beautiful way as I remember the Lord and it changes our view of ourselves and of the world. I feel that that is one reason that the sacrament is such an essential part of repentance, because we must remember and recommit and then little by little our natures change:)
Love, Elder Blackham

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

October 14, 2013

The storms keep coming but they are smaller than they were before.

At this moment I am jamming to BYU Mens Chorus "I love the Lord" right now, because in internet cafe's in the Philippines it's always a competition for who can play whatever they are doing on the computer louder and right now I am winning and its church hymns; haha!! 

We had a baptism this week for a new brother. He is so cool and really has changed his life through the atonement of Jesus Christ. I scrubbed the baptismal font for 2 hours to get it ready for the next day because it had rust stains in it. But the baptism was great, and the spirit was there.  This new convert is born again and so so so happy he keeps saying. It is so interesting what he said when he was bearing his testimony; that his greatest regret in life is that he didn't do this sooner. It really shows how urgent and important this work is. The sooner we get it to people; the less regrets they will have because they can repent and feel the Lord in their life sooner. I feel so blessed to be able to teach him.

The next couple baptisms are coming up on the 3rd of November and they are doing so amazing too:)   They are two sisters that read their scriptures together on a daily basis and at first they were shy and quiet and now they are loud and talk about how the gospel has blessed them in their lives. Wow there just isn't anything better than this.

General conference was absolutely amazing!! I had a spiritual feast every single talk!! My spiritual stomach exploded and then I grew 3 more stomachs kinda like a cow and then I filled all those full, haha. I kept a column on the right side of my note book for spiritual promptings of things I must do/study during the talks and I made sure in my notes I didn't write down what they said like a history of things but what the spirit spoke to me because of what they said. It was amazing!!!!!!!!!! I also looked back over my notes and tried to find patterns in the talks to find what the Lord is trying to say through all the speakers. I came up with 5 main things that were repeated most and what I prayed and came to find 5 things that he wanted me to improve on and understand for the next 6 months of my life. Then I wrote bullet points under each of the five that state the actions I will take and how I will achieve the things the Lord wants me to do. It was so cool to see so clearly the patterns, search and ponder with full purpose in heart to do something more because of what I learned:) 

I love studying the scriptures.  That is the thing I want my children to do the most, gain a love for studying the gospel and feasting on the words of Christ. They will always be lead to Christ and peace in their life no matter what:) 

Elder Blackham

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

October 7, 2013

We have general conference this weekend because of the time difference:) I am so excited for general conference though. Absolutely stoked not only for general conference but also because we will be having a baptism on that Saturday:) So I am pretty pumped about this. Teaching has just been so awesome:) The spirit has been so strong in all of our lessons and I just feel so happy:) I know that I am doing all that I can for their salvation:) 

As far as teaching and lessons go there is nothing better than letting the spirit teach and getting out of the way. We started teaching an investigator who is a lady in her 40s who seemed that she didn't want to hear what we had to share at first.  But then I gave her the list of questions that people often ask and she chose the one about what Jesus Christ expects of us. I shared with her Matthew. 5:48, which is the one that commands us to be perfect; then she was like how do I do that? Then we shared 1 Nephi 3:7 how God provides a way for every commandment. Then we testified of the Atonement and that as we share the gospel she will be able to feel the acceptance she is looking for through the gospel, and then she started crying and said she had been looking for that for her whole life and then we bore testimony and are excited to go back:) 

Teaching repentance is awesome too! We taught about repentance to these two sisters who will be baptized soon also, and they are progressing so well and rejoiced and felt so much peace from the message as we asked inspired questions about what they feel the blessings of repentance are and the effect it has and will have in their life. Also with another two investigators we taught them how to avoid sin and to constantly build upon the rock of Christ:) Wow, good week:) 

This week in my personal study I was reading in the 3rd chapter of Ether and verse 18 stood out to me because it talked about all that the Lord had showed unto Him and ministered unto Him and such great things "all this that this man might know that He was God." We can say the same about almost everything that happens to us. So that we might know that HE is God. If it takes reading the scriptures everyday and keeping all the commandments, trials and pains, repentance and forgiveness than I feel that it is worth it. If suffering allows me to know the Savior better, then I consider it a blessing:) I think it brings God so much joy when we remember our relationship with Him. I do not know exactly how well I knew Heavenly Father before this life but that must be so frustrating to Him, to not be known or recognized by His own children. I know that if I could not be recognized by my children that would break my heart. It must bring Him so much joy when we turn to Him and remember Him and strive to know Him again:) All this that we might know that He is God:) 

Love, Elder Blackham

Monday, October 7, 2013

September 30, 2013

So this week was pretty awesome and sad.  Sad because I will miss Elder Fisher but happy because my new comp Elder Afu is awesome too. 

The flood just keeps rising and the lake keeps rising. I am taking boats and walking on bamboo bridges to get to people when before I walked on dry ground. SO, that's fun and we are so out of time. We never have enough time to visit everyone so it is going to take some serious fasting and praying and help to know how to use the most precious and sacred time here to its fullest capacity. I talk like a New Zealander now because of my companion's accent. I accidentally get it sometimes. The best burger place in the Philippines is this place called H.I.D. Burger, just some random information.

This week in our teaching we started reading the Book of Mormon with lots of the less active families and it went so well. We just started with the introduction and and just kept going and the spirit filled the room so strong that we just kept on reading when the plan was only to read a little bit we actually read a chapter. The spirit that comes with it is so strong. I asked one man who had not been to church in ten years about how he feels about the Book of Mormon; he said that he totally forgot what was inside but that he will never forget that every time he opened it and started reading it he felt such a great peace and the power of God:) They went to church and they were so happy to start doing those things as a family again:) 

If we are ever feeling alone or down or anything it usually is a big indication that we are just really hungry. hungry for spiritual nourishment from the Lord, and its about time to have a feast. Everyone loves feasts, I mean the word itself is pretty cool:) 

I am so happy to be here in the Philippines Quezon City Mission:)

Love, Elder Blackham

Sunday, September 29, 2013

September 23, 2013

The first paragraph is an answer from Elder Blackham to the question posed by his mom:  "What made you choose to be an active member of the Mormon Church?"
The difference for me was, I think, to experiment on the word. The reason I know this church is true is not because you told me,  but because I tried it:) and it never left me:) When I was as little as 8 years old I have always prayed with a sincerity and it became a reality to me that God was my Heavenly Father just like you told me.  I came to know it for myself and just kept doing that and feeling the growth of my faith until I learned for myself that the Gospel and Plan of Salvation was true. 
You also remember me, since I was 13, reading my scriptures every single night. I didn't know at first how amazing it was until I just couldn't sleep without the peace I felt from the scriptures. Then I experienced repentance in my life and that became a part of me too. The story is quite simple and really the same since I was a child, until now. The story of Alma 32. I think it is basically the same for everyone:) I first heard the word from you and you do have the gift of bearing testimony with power;and then, as I felt it and sincerely tried it, I could not deny the joy I felt:) 

This week was totally rad and I love teaching with the spirit. I was able to see Elder Ardern and his wife again speak in the mission. I really liked what they said and enjoyed the things that I learned from the spirit:) My understanding of mercy here on the mission has grown a lot. I realize that being really hard on yourself will hurt you more than help you. As we make mistakes in life sometimes our expectations for ourselves or whatever we think, get in the way of healing and over coming our struggles. Sometimes we ponder on the pain or the sting of the things we have done wrong in life. Instead we should let go and allow the Savior to heal us. If I just ponder the pain of breaking a leg after it heals or stop doing things because of my memory of the leg breaking I am not letting myself be fully healed fully. I cannot enjoy life the way I used to unless I forgive myself and allow myself to live the best I can today. I hope that makes sense. We don't need to feel bad about things we have done in the past if we have repented of it. It's like the story of the beautiful park built on top of a land fill. Instead of enjoying the park we dig up old garbage. We must forgive ourselves and let ourselves move on and grow:)

My companion Elder Fisher went to the mission home today because he is going home.  His two years are up.   I will miss him so much, he was such a great friend and truly endured to the end of His mission. He is so cool and I learned so much from him. I am so grateful God never gives up on us and always, always does His best for us:) 

As far as teaching people this week nothing really changed, haha. Everyone continues to progress and grow and it was great. I went on a lot of exchanges with missionaries which is a lot of fun to learn and grow and meet other missionaries and strengthen one another. I like going with the new missionaries because their desire and humility is evident and fun to be around:) I hope I can help everyone as much as I can:) 

Love, Elder Blackham

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

September 15, 2013

 Things are going absolutely great!! I just am so so so out of time. There is no time sometimes I sleep in my proselyting clothes and its just an adventure:) We are having good success. We just had a less active family come to church and they hadn't gone to church for years, so that was awesome and we also have a date for them to be sealed as a family:)!! I am so excited for them:) We got some great new investigators this week and a lot more are progressing so thats awesome:) 

The talk by Elder Holland in the Liahona is so awesome about the justice and mercy of God:) I like how he said that "nothing in this world will ever hurt you more than what you do not know." At first I felt in my heart that I wanted to say that that was not true but then I pondered it for a moment and realized that it is absolutely true. For example if you don't know what a commandment is, you cannot follow it. I thought about the many people we taught, especially about the law of chastity, that say that they wish they knew these things sooner then they would not been in the situation they are.  A knowledge of good and evil allows you to make proper decisions that can save your life; but, without it you are almost bound to mess up. Those who don't know smoking is bad, or not knowing the effect of our decisions will cause us to make those decisions.  You can't get out of a bad situation or change your life. The list goes on of the simple truth of not being able to do things if you don't know how:  managing money, being happy. I also like how he explained that bad will never evolve into good. Just like a math equation you can never fix a false answer by simply going on but you must go back to the point that you messed up at and start over from there and life is the same:) 

I also liked the talk about Christ like mercy. I think that out of all the perfect attributes that God has, I think that one of them that I appreciate so much, like so so so so much, is His mercy. His ability to say I forgive you; go and sin no more but not just once, but over and over again, because we will always discover more of our weaknesses, and more sins as we seek to become more like Him. Yet again and again if we have a broken heart and contrite spirit He says "thy sins are forgiven thee." Out of everyone we hurt, the people we hurt the most when we sin are the one that love us most, the number one being that loves us is God, He gets hurt the most because its another reason we can't return to Him. I love that He loves to forgive:)

Out of all the invitations we give people as missionaries, the best has got to be the invitation to repent:) We don't have to remain the way we are, things are not hopeless because of repentance:)
Love, Elder Blackham

Thursday, September 12, 2013

September 9, 2013

This week was great!! I am learning a lot about myself which allows me to improve myself and use the atonement to help me overcome my weaknesses. I just keep having a blast here and can't stop smiling as long as I remember why I am here:) The members in this ward are so much fun!

Our zone covers a couple cities here too. As I review all the things that happen over the last week, every time I write home I find myself laughing as the events flash by like little movie clips in my head. It's even more funny when you are an English speaker because lots of times the translation is funnier than the actual meaning. For example if I wanted to insult some one here I would say,  "Makapal ang mukha mo," which in translation is:  "Your face is thick!" Haha. Lots of people here have fake arguments to make life more interesting so its pretty funny to watch.

This week as I was studying faith in Christ in the attributes section of Preach My Gospel it talks about how part of faith in Christ is accepting Him as your Savior. That really stood out to me because many people will claim to believe that Christ is the Savior but there is a difference between knowing that He is the Savior and knowing that He is your savior. One believes that He payed for the sins for their personal sins. One of them has a personal relationship with the Savior while the other has not yet partaken of the personal Joy or understands that their personal sins and mistakes have also been covered in the payment.  The difference is in the application. Because it feels different when you say it the different ways and ponder on the understanding of Christs personal understanding of you. Some times we get discouraged or casual and say yea He is the Savior and forget that we are included in the ones He is saving. Our personal faith, is the difference. We have heard or seen it make a difference in the lives of  others or I have seen it effect those I teach but we have seen it and we need to have faith that it works on us too:)
My Favorite investigators are these two sisters that are keeping their commitments and feeling the change in their life and the effect of the atonement. I love to listen to them discover the gospel for the first time and describe their feelings as they read and apply what they learn; they just want to learn more and more. They feel like they discovered a treasure that's priceless and bottomless treasure chest and as they continue to learn it just gets better and better. I think we need to study the gospel like that and discover and rediscover how amazing it is by simply living what we learn:)
Elder Blackham

Sunday, September 8, 2013

September 2, 2013

Things continue to be great!! Elder Fisher is from Clearfield, Utah. As of right now our teaching schedule is full all the time and we get to meet so many people and you always find new people when you are looking for people. 

Funny thing that happened is that Elder Fisher and I made 20 liters of home made egg nog,  haha. We have been drinking it all the time and call it "The Brew." Dad sent me some nut meg a while back and I thought I would never use it because I had no idea what it was, haha. But now I am really glad he sent it because you need it for egg nog:) 

It's not flooding here right now but the bay is still raising and we had to take a boat to get to someones house that normally we walk to haha. The water from other floods continues to drain into it.

We have some awesome investigators that really want to change their lives. A couple of them discovered the power of repentance and forgiveness in their lives this last week as they kept the commitment to repent and to read the assigned scriptures that were given about repentance and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was such a great experience to see the joy in their eyes and how they described their experience. They felt a burden taken away that before they never knew how to remove it. The Plan of Salvation finally clicked for another family we are teaching.  They see the bigger picture now and it gives them comfort and peace to know the plan of God and they never need wonder the question "why" when life's trials and storms rage against them, but rather what am I to learn and how will this bring me closer to God?

As I have pondered lately the work of God, I have discovered more the love He has for me and all of us. In Moses 1:39, Moroni 10:32-33. I realized, or came to the conclusion, that God's entire work is us. Meaning that when I wake up in the morning and wonder what God is doing; I know for sure that He is working on my eternal life and the eternal life and happiness of everyone else. We are always on His mind, not only when we pray or not only most of the time but always. He is the great sculptor and we are His masterpiece, he gives us trials to chisel away the rough edges and sometimes great ones to remove chunks of stone, He gives us families and angels to strengthen the weak parts. All while we walk and talk and go throughout our day He is working on us trying to get us to become like Christ. It is what He does, it is His great accomplishments and joys is when we are exalted and worthy for His kingdom. Everything is put in our favor to become and He is doing all He can.  But in the end it is up to us to be sculptable, willing to change. It just kind of sunk deeper the Love of God for me in that I am His work and His Glory. As are all of us. It is just great to think about it and ponder:) 

Elder Blackham

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

August 26, 2013

The floods are a lot of fun. I walked through really high water this week. What I thought was a river was actually Leguna Bay, haha. I don't know this area very well yet, haha. 

We have some pretty amazing investigators and we just found a few more so that's great. I really wish there was more time in a day to be able to reach everyone. The investigators are very sincere and that's all a missionary could really ask for is desire. It's interesting how almost all concerns that come up when teaching someone, are almost all resolved through praying to know if this is true, if the Book of Mormon is true.  If this is the truth, then  when they get the answer almost all of it is resolved. If they have a concern about one principle or another you can ask, did you get a confirmation that this is true? If they say yes then it's solved. There is not much to worry about if you get a confirmation from the Holy Ghost that something is right and you are doing it then you really have nothing to worry about. "There is absolutely nothing in this world that will provide more comfort and happiness than a testimony of the truth." - President Thomas S. Monson. 
I am so grateful for my companion Elder Fisher he is so much fun and is teaching me so many things. He is so absolutely calm all the time. We are still just getting the area down but its so cool meeting so many different people in one day. My new mission president is awesome. We just had stake conference. I met a 6 foot 3  African American man there who said he prayed and God told him to go to the stake center and meet the men wearing white.  So that was a testimony building experience; totally random but cool.

By the way I am learning a Filipino dance from an elder in the same house as me. He is from Cebu and they have a tribal dance called the "Dance of Death". It's a dance that is also a martial art so that's cool, we just do that as our morning exercise. Also I am learning how to use nun-chucks so that's cool too.
Well I am excited for next week I hear there will be 15 more typhoons coming so that will be interesting.  We will probably be able to do a lot of service. 

I am memorizing a scripture every morning to help me keep my baptismal covenant to remember Him always and it helps and makes my day so much better and amazing:) I highly recommend it because then I get to have the spirit with me always and I feel more in control and just see so many things and mercies throughout the day and I am much more in control of my mind which then means I am in more control of myself:)
 Elder Blackham 

Monday, August 26, 2013

August 19, 2013

So far things are going totally awesome.  I am excited to serve the Lord in this area. The new house I am in is huge, well small to American standards, but enormous to Philippine standard. We found two giant spiders today and made them fight. Each of them were as big as my hand so it was pretty cool. The brown one won in case you were wondering. I really don't like that I have been out for a year already its going by way too fast. 

My new area is right by a big river which is cool, but its pretty city like. To be totally honest  really don't like big cities, I prefer the smaller cities.  But, I Iove the Lord so that means I love the city too haha. I Love the people here too they are so much fun to be with and I love to make them smile. The ward is absolutely amazing and I am blown away at their understanding of missionary work.  

Elder Fisher, my new companion, is totally amazing. He is going home this transfer and he is not trunky at all and I am learning so much from him. He is an amazing man of the Lord and is absolutely hilarious. 

We are white washing our area.  That  means that the last two missionaries are both leaving and we are opening it up again so that is intense. I still haven't unpacked from getting to the house. It did rain a lot here and flood but not too bad just like a foot deep by the river.  

As far as my studying about Jesus Christ specifically I am finding his attributes and what He does in certain situations, so I am going to look up in the topical guide all the scriptures that have Jesus Christ. For example, "Jesus Christ, exemplar"  etc. for that 15 min. of every day. This week in my study I learned more about what it means to minister unto others and the meaning of mercy. When Christ ministered he would stop and give all His attention to the person whom He was ministering to, also it seemed like such a personal thing and was always directed to what would the person need most, in a loving and merciful way.

Every blessing we ever receive is a form of mercy because we would not receive it if it were not for the atonement of Jesus Christ and mercy of God. We are definitely unprofitable servants but yet He still seeth fit to bless us. Kindness is a form of mercy and forgiveness, gentleness. I still cannot comprehend how meciful the Lord is. It is too great for my mind to wrap around it. But I can give thanks with all my heart and still strive to learn and eventually wrap my mind around it. 

Love, Elder Blackham

Sunday, August 18, 2013

August 12, 2013

This week was amazing because of the change of heart that has been taking place in the family that we reactivated and also the referral that they have given us. Her name is Jazmine and she loves the gospel and knows that this is her 2nd chance in life.  (That is what she said in her own words.)  She understands and feels the miracle of repentance and really wants to be baptized because she understands that being clean and having the companionship of the Holy Ghost is the joy and peace and happiness in her life and will connect with great power and clarity her with Her Heavenly Father, so that she can be led and guided throughout her whole life until she will return to live with Him again. 

The family's house is way up on the mountain through bamboo and lots of mud and banana trees and mango trees. I love that family a lot and I can't tell you how many times we have hiked this mountain to teach them. They have been less active for two years or more but in the teaching record it shows they have been taught for the last two years.  We were about to drop them because we were sick of hiking the mountain to have nothing happen haha. We prayed what to do and decided to give them our all and if that didn't work we were going to drop them. We decided that instead of hiking up their twice a week like we had been doing; that we would hike up there four times a week.  Well now they are active and have brought many others into the church.   Now, I love hiking that really sweaty hike to their bamboo house.  

This is the best work ever, you cant even choose a better job, because this job as a missionary changes you just as much as you try to help others change. I can think of no greater payment than treasures in heaven and a change of my own heart as I consistently strive to serve the Lord:) 

Things are going great. I am getting transferred to the Taytay Zone  and I will be white washing the area. The zone has 25 missionaries in it so that is scary.  But there is no sense in being scared because I am going to do it whether I am scared or not haha. 

This week I found and felt the change in  my testimony as I bore it. I felt the peace and power enter my heart. I focused on saying I know by the Holy Ghost that it is true every time I testify so that the people I teach will understand that they cannot know without the Holy Ghost and more what it means. Well I can say that I have been a big benefactor of saying this and have felt an increase level of the Holy Ghost and joy as I do so:)

I will really miss my trainee Elder Gako, He has really become my friend and has taught me a lot on how to be a friend and all the little things that help someone become friends.

 As I was studying and praying for what I should study for. I felt prompted to get to know Christ better. I realized that if we take His name upon us and make His example the basis of all our decisions, how are we going to be able to do what he does and become like Him if we don't know what He would do in some situations. So I am devoting 15 minutes of my personal study every day on who is Jesus Christ. Then the rest of the 45 is for my investigators. 

So yea life is like the best, today I jumped off a water tank and fell and it hurt but it was fun and I laughed. Its been raining so so so much here. But I love it:)
Elder Blackham

Thursday, August 8, 2013

August 5, 2013

This week was awesome!!!! You said you want to know interesting things that happen. Well, in one of our lessons a kid walked right in front of me and Elder Gako and started peeing. That was interesting. Also, I farmed and planted vegetables for one of our investigators this week. Also I got a huge knife thing called an itak and chopped down really tall grass, and boldly taught lessons by the spirit. The thing I like about the rain is that when it rains it floods and it gets colder and I just enjoy the sounds and the cool air and how all these weird animals and bugs come out when it rains.  
So as far as this week goes that new idea for finding has helped people search more and get more serious in the lessons because we are teaching based of the individual's desire to learn. The increase in attention and seriousness is amazing when they find a question that they want to know. Imagine how much more we would learn ourselves if we asked more questions. For example the difference between reading and studying is when you read you wait for knowledge to fall in your lap; but when you study you seek and ask and reach and actively gain knowledge and understanding. If you ever read the scriptures and  feel like your not going anywhere, then  ask a question like what does it mean to have full purpose of heart and then immediately you mind will be enlightened as you search and you will gain so much learning, and you won't want to stop. I keep learning this lesson over and over again. 

Also this week when we did service it really opened the door to teach the mother of an investigator we have.  The investigator wants to be baptized but the mother doesn't want that for her daughter. So, because of the service we did she invited us to sit and speak with her and now she likes us coming over.  That is really cool because her daughter is scheduled to be baptized in a month. By the way her daughter is in her thirties but when you live with your parents you still have to do what they say. That's part of the culture here because most families live with parents and relatives in one house.

Another thing that touched my heart this week is when we help a member get food when they needed help to get food. They cried because of their gratitude to eat one meal in one day and it really touched my heart that someone would cry so sincerely for gratitude that they have food to eat. It is a hard thing to take in. Also that family shared many experiences of miracles this week where they know the Lord is watching over them in order to live. I know we say we are thankful for food and life in our prayers but now I know a deeper level of gratitude for those things with which I have been blessed. Gratitude is such a huge part of happiness. It really is one of the biggest keys to happiness.

The 3 keys to happiness I found in Mosiah chapter 2;  serving others, gratitude, and obedience. We also had tons of investigators show up to church.  That always scares me, haha I should have more trust in the ward and members and fellow shipping but I have no control over that so it always scares me when people go to church to what their experience is going to be like as far as how the ward loves them and stuff. That is such a huge part of missionary work is just having a nice accepting ward that's friendly and reaches out and doesn't always sit in the same spot or have their little groups of friends. Fear is the opposite of faith so I need to just trust more that the Lord is watching over them.
As far as my apartment it's great, we keep it super clean. My shoes are great. My health is great. Oh and I discovered this bear brand of powdered milk that's so awesome. I love to double the powder so its super creamy and I love to drink out of my Tangled cup.
Love, Elder Blackham

(Note from Elder Blackham's Mom:  Disney's Tangled is Elder Blackham's favorite movie so I sent him a Disney cup with the princess from Tangled on it in his package to commemorate his half way through the mission package)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

July 29, 2013

Man, goodness gracious I feel like singing  all the time!!  I love working my tail off and showing the Lord that I love Him. I love you mom and thanks so much for your love.  It has been raining a ton here and its been awesome, I love it when it floods it just makes life more exciting, haha. 

This week was a great learning week as far as the natural man. In the talk about being chaste by Elder Bednar it is one of the greatest talks about the plan of salvation and why we came to earth ever! I love it so much and I find many treasures of Knowledge as I read it again and again. I love the part where it explains if we never felt human passions, or hunger we could not learn self control. If we never got a head ache from waiting we could not learn patience. We really needed a body, I can't imagine all the knowledge we would have missed out on without a body. We really needed to come here and prepare and learn to control it all. 

All of the attributes of our spirit are amplified through a mortal body, relationships, ability to choose, and tons and tons more. It is just so cool. Every single day I am trying to memorize more scripture about overcoming the Natural man, for example right now I am memorizing Doctrine and Covenants 121:34-46. And every single night I ask myself "did I put off the natural man today and how can I do better tomorrow?" If the purpose of life is to gain a mortal body and to put off the natural man and obtain Godlike qualities in order to prepare ourselves to dwell with God again; then I feel it is definitely worth asking myself everyday that question and following up and using my agency to stay close to the Lord and put it off a little more at a time through the atonement every day.  If we do not learn and grow everyday then that is such a waste of a day that God has given us in order to learn and grow and prepare to live with Him again.

As far as the work its going pretty darn amazing, I feel absolute peace and joy when I ponder whether or not I am giving my all to the Lord. I am learning so much about how to get people to want to know or to find people who are ready and willing to accept the message. In the movie Alice and Wonderland, Alice comes to a fork in the road or something like that and she asks the cat which road she should take. The cat asks, "where do you want to go?" Alice responded with, "I don't know." Then the cat said, "Then it doesn't matter which path you take." That scene from the movie is definitely summarized and not at all word for word but that's the basic jist of it. So, as far as people we teach,  they won't care what we have to say until they have somewhere they want us to take them, or that they think we could help them get to. So I took the list from Preach My Gospel the Book of Mormon section called "questions of the soul" and wrote them down on a piece of paper and took it to people who were not progressing. I allowed them to read the list and pick the question that stood out to them most and was a question of their soul. Instantly they gain much more interest and willingness after finding their question and this has helped absolutely everyone I brought it to.

I am going to use it to find more investigators.  For example, I would walk up to someone and ask for a favor, the natural human response would be to ask what they could do to help (especially filipino) and then I would ask them to read the list and see if a question stood out to them as something they have often asked themselves. Then when they chose their question I would explain that we have the answer and would love to teach them. Thus we are fulfilling their own desire to know and not just our desire to teach. We will see how it goes, we haven't had to find much lately because our schedules are full but if we do this week I will let you know how it goes. It totally helps people open up and ask the questions that they have just been too shy or afraid to ask and help them start their journey to find truth. 

Love, Elder Blackham

Monday, July 29, 2013

July 22, 2013

Thank you for the Happy Birthday things and all of the love and support you give.  It's cool how the Philippines celebrates birthdays; it is the exact opposite of the United States. In the U.S. you receive gifts and are treated kindly but in the Philippines you are supposed to give everyone else gifts and a good time and be nice to them. To be honest I prefer the Philippines way because it is a celebration of what makes life great; and that is the people around you and your family and such. I will be taking my zone out to eat later today because it's only 8 people in my zone, and I want to celebrate the Philippines way!  But, I am not going to lie the other way is pretty awesome. I think in all the best is the Phil-am way haha. The mix of both. Any ways as far as this week things continue to be great and growth and learning blossoms all around. Thank you so much for the music I have been longing for that for so so so long. Oh my goodness thank you. 
The work in our area continues to progress and I am excited to see what the future holds. Lots of people that were not progressing are now making progress and it is really amazing to see the blessings of the gospel in the lives of others. I am learning so much more about how to be a better teacher and to allow people to seek learning by faith. I am learning so much more about the power of the atonement. We know that it is infinite and that so is its power, but we have no idea what that entails. I am so grateful for the Book of Mormon that helps give me a better understanding of what that means. It really is changing my life here and I had an undeniable witness and experience of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon as I read the chapter when Christ comes to the ancient inhabitants of the Americas. The spirit was so strong and I felt like I was there and great peace entered my heart with a feeling that was saying to my heart.. yes this really did happen. It was a quiet, peaceful,  but powerful feeling. The stories of the Lamanites who actually delighted in bloodshed, then through the atonement, were willing to die before they would shed the blood of their brothers. It helps give you strength and understanding, by saying to ourselves.. if the atonement could help these people in this way and turn away from their sins and they were a terrible people, then maybe it can work for me... and then the seed is planted and as we exercise our faith it will grow and we will come to know that it does work for us and that we can change and come unto Christ:)  I know that the Old and New testaments are true too. The whole gospel is so amazing, its not just a part its the whole thing:)  I love to teach repentance so much. This week we taught repentance to a woman and it was just incredible. She was so happy to know how to repent and experience the healing of repentance. If I ever feel a gap between me and God or I am ever sad, or anything at all I find the best solution is repentance. I know that seems weird but it is what heals and makes every thing better it allows us to access the atonement and humble ourselves before God and see the world through a whole new view. We come to know how important we are, and that true joy and freedom and peace and that we fulfill our purpose here on earth by repenting and changing and becoming what God wants us to become. Anyways this Sister that we were teaching was so so so excited to repent and to feel the blessings of the atonement in her life. It is so cool when an investigator says things like ... SO if I do this.. then I will get this. In her case she said "so if I repent sincerely and this way then I will feel peace and joy and be given strength to overcome the trials in my life?" and then we could promise her yes:) It was so great. So yeah,  this week has been amazing:)
Love Elder Blackham,

Monday, July 15, 2013

July 15, 2013

I am doing so great and I am so happy and I am learning so much. I have been having so many amazing, sacred, special experiences in which I learned lessons that I know I could never learn any other way than by being here serving the Lord with my all. I am glad I wrote it down in my journal. I am mostly learning about accepting the Lord's will and being accepted by Him and how His ways are definitely not our ways. I learned that we as people have expectations for everything, Expectations for ourselves and for what's going to happen to us or what we will be doing at this or that point of our lives.  If things do not turn out as you expected, we need to submit and try to find out what the Lord's will is and why, instead of thinking that we failed or didn't do what we needed. Because we definitely do not see things the way He does, we don't understand the big picture that God has for us. Our failures may not even be failures in the big picture.  

I really like the article by Elder Uchtdorf about light and how darkness exists but we need to stay in the light. But sometimes things we see as a mess up or mistake we view as dark when it was a great learning experience and a way we have learned to rise up and do the Lords will. Even if you gave it your all the Lord has different plans for us, and we need to be willing to see it and say to ourselves "Ohhh so this is what the Lord wants for me, or Ohhh  this was His plan for me" instead of tearing ourselves down. The reason  for the Atonement is so that we would be allowed to make mistakes and instead of demanding immediate perfection, the atonement pays for the immediate demand for perfection to justice and sets steps(the gospel of Jesus Christ)   along with mercy and agency to allow us to choose and develop and mess up and learn and repent as we learn and eventually gain perfection and eternal life. Wow how simple and amazing that is. 

That does not give us an excuse for not trying with our all because some people use the atonement as a way of saying they don't need to try so hard or give it all their effort because they are supposed to mess up, but that is not how it works that is abusing the sacred gift of our time here on earth and not a true gratitude for what the Lord has done.  As long as we give it our all, the atonement will take full effect on our lives according to what we give and we will have no regrets but a symphony of joy and learning and understanding.  It is so amazing being able to bring the atonement into the lives of others. I know that God has power to forgive and to save, and as we trust in Him we will receive those blessings and joys that we so long for.

As far as the work we are having tons of success and we can hardly reach everyone in one day. Hopefully we can get going on splits this week and every week in order to reach everyone we need to teach in one week. It is going to take serious revelation to discern who is serious and who we should drop and make sure we keep the people who really want to change their life. We are helping one family and it's going amazing. The mom is an alcoholic and we are helping her quit and pray and she just loves the gospel so much.  She and her husband were about to split up before we started teaching them.  But, because we taught her at that day on that moment her husband and her did not split up and she humbled herself and stopped drinking.  So far it has been a week and she usually doesn't go 2 days  without drinking and so its so amazing.  We just loving teaching people who want to know, who ask questions and are seeking to learn and to change:) Her eyes are so filled with light now.  Before she looked so sad and now she is constantly smiling and there is no way to describe how that feels as a missionary; to actually help the Lord to become a part of their lives. All I want to do is give something to the Lord, that is my pursuit and goal is to somehow every day be a benefit to the Lord for having breathed and lived another day. I feel so indebted to Him for His sacrifice that He willingly and lovingly gave for me and for everyone. I truly do stand all amazed as I ponder it.
(This is a reply to a question from Mom about if they were getting ipads or laptops to help with their teaching)
As far as the new technology I cant imagine that ever getting to the Philippines and I talked to the area president over the Philippines, Elder Teh (who turns out to be the uncle of one of my friends from EFY).   He lives in my ward and he said they are going to do the technology upgrades one mission at a time, and I might be home before that happens to us. I can't of myself imagine how that would fly walking into a house with an i-pad, where they can't afford chairs to sit on.  So for our mission it might be different, there will be a for sure advancement of technology but the amount of it and who gets to hold it and use it, I think will depend.
Elder Blackham

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Random Picture

This picture was sent without any details with it so it gets it's own post :)

Elder Blackham and his companion with a family.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

July 8, 2013

Mahal na mahal kita. I am so happy right now. 

Yesterday 8 of our investigators gained a real desire to know if this is true. That sounds strange but many people here will listen to anyone who claims to teach of Christ and let them in their home but it's more of a cultural thing. The hard part is to get them do something, anything about finding out what is truth. Most people here get taught so many different things that they become numb to religion or just no matter what they hear just stick to what they are born in as a tradition. But when we share about Joseph Smith, every single person that actually wants to know relates to His story and they begin to  ask why are there so many churches, why this, why that, which is absolutely perfect because we have the answer but they must gain that testimony for themselves first. 

It doesn't matter what we say,  for they must know that God supports what we say first for it to mean something. We also explain about the atonement and how Christ atoned for us and we at least owe him the simple desire to know how to use his atonement and be freed from sin. So then they started to ask questions and ask for us to come back every day and they said they will do whatever it takes to know.   That is probably the greatest thing a missionary can hear, because if someone really wants to know they will really get an answer. Its just as simple and as amazing as that. 

There is a term in tagalog that is Kung gusto, maraming paraan, kung ayaw maraming dahilan. which translates- if you want to there will be many ways to get what you want, if you don't want to you will find many reasons not to. That's the exact translation but a better translation is, "He who has the desire will find a way and He who has not will find an excuse" That is absolutely true haha. We could tell that the people we were teaching at first didn't have the greatest desire to know.  But now, because the spirit and the countenance of the people we taught changed; they started asking question after question and asking us to come back every single day and they said that they will do whatever it takes to get an answer. 

One of the most exciting experiences  was when a sister, after us explaining why its so important to know if its true (we explain that by explaining about  the atonement and talking about Joseph Smith's story) explained that she felt the same way and also that her desire is to know what we just explained to her is true. As she began to understand when we expounded about the redeeming power of the atonement she said that if this is true, then this is how she could become clean and be free of the burdens she carries and that she can partake of every blessing God has prepared for His children.  She then started to cry and said that that is her greatest desire. The spirit was so strong and there is no greater joy than being an instrument in bringing the understanding and knowledge of the Atonement about in the lives of others. 

I testify that it is true and that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer and he took the pains and punishment of all our sins upon Himself so that if we repent we would not have to suffer as He did:) That's how valuable we are, we are worth atoning for, I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ amen.
Love, Elder Blackham

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

July 1, 2013

So we just had transfer announcements and I will be follow up training my trainee which I was hoping because I love that kid so much, and we are having such a blast and lots of success so we will probably see some baptisms this transfer. I am so excited to keep things going and show to the Lord that I will serve Him with my all:) 

I want to share about a sister and her family that we found. I saw her standing outside her house with her kids and so I asked if we could introduce ourselves to her and at first she seemed hesitant and didn't seem to want to listen and said she is busy (which is the most often heard excuse ever). I then asked her about her family and how important they were to her and she got really emotional and was really worried about how to help them come close to God as a family.  When Elder Gako and I testified of the promised blessings of the gospel to families she decided she wanted us to come back and teach. So we did and she is progressing so well, the things like family prayer and F.H,E. and current revelations from prophets are so amazing to her and it is so amazing to see how it is blessing her life:) Wow I love waking up in the morning to have experiences like this every day. This is just so amazing!!:) 

This past week I have just been learning about Repentance and the power of the Atonement to forgive and to heal. One of my favorite sayings in preach my gospel is "to be clean from sin is to be spiritually healed."  I love this saying so much. No matter what we are feeling I find I feel a lot better when I just take whatever I got and try to change and become more in line with His will. Aligning our life with the Lord's will is a central purpose to our lives and allows us to take hold upon His mercy and love and strength to become a constant part of our life:) 

I am also learning a lot about being consistent and how amazing it is to be constant in righteousness. Bad people can do good things but they cannot be consistent and have integrity in the good things they do, so all of our good attributes our only as strong as our integrity to them:) 
As far as the answers to your questions, I have not met my new mission president, I also have seen a ton new sisters just now they are coming into the mission in large numbers. None of the boundaries are changing yet either.
Share the gospel, don't be afraid just smile and do it:)
Love, ELder BLackham

Monday, July 1, 2013

June 24, 2013

That is so so so amazing about the missionary work I sure hope they have something like that here. I can't express to you how much more success there is when we get a referral than when we just go out and find, haha. The statistics say that 1 in 8 referrals are baptized here in the Philippines and 1 in like 3 or 4 thousand that you talk to on the street are baptized so haha. Don't quote me I don't know that exact statistics.  I think it is actually a lot more that 4 thousand. So things go so so so so much better when someone hears the gospel through a friend. Luckily we get lots of referrals so we are very blessed. 

It's definitely the rainy season and it rains about every single day but I absolutely love the weather. I keep hitting my head on peoples' roofs haha. My trainee Elder Gako is still as amazing as ever and he learns so quickly and I am  so impressed with him.

 As far as the work its going really well and the people we are teaching are making lots of progress which is the most exciting thing ever as far as being a missionary. The biggest hope in the whole world is that after all that you do and say that the spirit will get to them and they will act, and use their agency and come closer to the savior, one step at a time. Our whole goal is to get them to act, and to pray and to just try it. We do all we absolutely can to get them to just try it with sincere wanting to know, or to come closer to the savior. We don't convert people, the spirit does and we invite them to act and allow the spirit to teach them on their own and gain their own testimony by using their own freedom to choose. It must be them, they must be the ones to ask and to gain their own testimony, we just teach them the what the why and the how:) A funny thing that happened this week is a whole litter of kittens came out of a bush and started following me and my companion for at least a half mile, it was really sweet.
I learned how to cook so many things here and I cook all the time for my companions and roommate missionaries. My mission president is going home next week so that is pretty crazy but I am excited to learn so much from two amazing mission presidents and I feel so lucky to have them both for almost a whole year each. I am just loving life!! This gospel really is what we all say it is. I know it:) I am so blessed to be a part of it:) In the name of Jesus Christ Amen:)
Love, Elder Blackham