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