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