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