Monday, August 25, 2014

August 18, 2014 (Elder Blackham's Last Letter Home)

This last week was great and teaching went a lot better. I am really learning in this last week that things don't always happen the way we want; but that does not mean that they are not happening the way they are supposed to. As much as our investigators are God's investigators we too are God's investigators and in every aspect of life He is trying to teach us and help us grow and learn and become what we want to be.  As we submit to His will we will become as He wants and that is much greater than what I can ever ask or want. I will just love and give my all to my investigators for this last week  especially to the Lord. Then when I go home I will not have any more investigators and my whole heart will then go to God and my family:) 


Elder Blackham

Thursday, August 14, 2014

August 4, 2014

This last week I was in Manila in order to get finger prints and also for MLC. I was there from Mon. thru Friday without a companion; but I went on exchanges with other missionaries. I love going on exchanges, it helps me learn so much and also gives me a chance to help the other missionaries. I also was able to go through the temple twice while I was there:) It was amazing!! On exchanges we had so much success we found 20 new investigators in 2 days. That was fun:) We found 2 families to teach and just it has been awesome. I am so grateful for the chances I had to work. On Tuesday I got to teach a few workshops for the incoming trainees and trainers and I just jump at every chance to teach and to strengthen the work here:) It has just become so apparent that nothing else matters than this work. We must not be casual with this, this is the truth and the way and light:) Even through Jesus Christ:) Elder Hart and I are so excited to teach this week. Our goal is to have 10 people prepared for baptism before I go home:)I know the Lord will help us do this and even more than that :)

Elder Blackham

July 28, 2014

This last week was amazing:) Things are clicking really well in Mindoro:) We have too many people to teach and so little time.So we are so happy with that, its a good problem to have. They all are so great. I love to teach them and feel the spirit. There is nothing better than feeling the spirit as you teach them. 

This week there was a ton of experiences but I will only be able to share a few. Our new investigators are really interested and reading and asking all the right questions. There is one new family we found and while we were teaching them the Dad came home and got in a fight with the Land Lord and His wife. It was scary! But when it was over we promised them blessings and prayed with them and then we went to find the father and did the same with Him and it helped a lot to pray with them and to be there for them at that moment of hardships.  We were inspired to teach about how the gospel blesses families and I know it will bless them so much. We are teaching them now and I am so excited to see the way their lives change from the gospel. It is impossible to get trunky when you just love the people where you are serving, you just cant stop thinking about them and its really hard for me to be in Manila for another week and not get to see them.

There are a lot of people progressing in our area and I am so happy to be able to be teaching them. It is so interesting how the people that we teach have been so prepared by the Lord and I am so grateful the Lord allowed us to cross paths and go from complete strangers to life changing friends and servants:) It is so wonderful. That is the spirit of Missionary work. 

As far as my flight plans I get to Arizona August 27th at 3:45 pm. So yea I finally got them. 

Elder Blackham

July 21, 2014

My  companion right now is Elder Hart, we just had transfers and this last week and then we were stranded in our apartments for 2 days when the storm hit. (Note from Mom:  they had a typhoon hit in Bret's mission area of Quezon City but because he is on the island off the main island it was not as severe where he is currently living).  The storm wasn't even that bad! I was frustrated to be stuck inside. I disobeyed a little bit to go OYM people when we were told to stay inside but I couldn't help it, you only have so long to be in a specific area serving the Lord. But I eventually went inside and waited out the storm. I kept calling and asking if we could go out and work and the office got mad and said, "Just stay inside and enjoy your extra p-day!" But that is more like torture though haha. Oh well so it was super hard to not see the people we were teaching very much but I was happy on the up side to have some quality bonding time with my comp and kabahays. We will be able to do a lot more this week;) 

SO that is good. Our investigators actually texted us questions about the Book of Mormon so that's great it means that they are reading:) If only they knew how much this would bless them. I wish I could just plug in my brain to theirs and they could just absorb it all and get it, get what I see them becoming, get God's love for them and just get it:) But we learn precept by precept. That cursed p word... Patience haha. I love you mom.

Love Elder Blackham 

July 14, 2014

This last week was great:) I was so happy to be able to be here and not in Manila for this week. It was a hard week though trying to go through the week after having been gone for such a long time. But I am so happy because it helped us recognize those who will really progress and who would not.

This week we recognized some great investigators that are progressing and one is this family that just loves to be taught and every time we teach the spirit is so strong and they just ask all the right questions. After two lessons he was already sharing everything we taught with others. I realize that the spirit really knows who is ready and as we follow promptings we will be led to do what is best all the time. I mean if that's what the Lord wants then that's what can happen if we have faith to do so. I have been finding so much more things that I am grateful for in my prayers:) It makes me feel so happy:) 

One thing I learned in my study was about the plan of Salvation and Faith in Jesus Christ:) I was reading about our life on earth in preach my gospel and I wondered or questions popped up in my head like.. " Why did we choose to come here and others didn't?  What made it so we were okay with how hard it was going to be?" "What made it so others didn't come"?   Then the answer came to my mind clearly that it was faith in Jesus Christ:) We had faith in Jesus Christ that we could come here even though we made mistakes, we trusted Him and it made us excited to come to earth even understanding the hardships we would have to endure and the reason others didn't is because they did not have faith in Him and were scared because their faith was in themselves and they knew they could not do it on their own. This helped me understand how powerful faith in Christ is and how necessary it is:) Also it helped me realize that without a broken heart and a contrite spirit our faith is in vain. Because if we have pride it means part of our faith is in ourselves and not completely in Christ. When we fear to do things like open our mouth to share the gospel after receiving a prompting it is because our faith is not completely in Christ but partially in ourselves, but when we have complete faith in Christ we fear nothing, only disobedience do we fear. But we know that through Him we can be made whole and repent:) So that was something I learned this week that was so cool;)
Elder Blackham

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

July 7, 2014

This week I have been in Manila for the entire week, haha. I just got back to Mindoro today which was like the hardest thing ever! To be out of your area for 7 days when your teaching pool has reached 40 souls was really hard.  Well the Lord has his hand in all things and as we do cheerfully all in our power we can stand still with the utmost assurance that His hand will be revealed in our lives:) (D&C 123:17). 

I was able to go on exchanges. We were there for Mission Leader Conference but because the airport is under construction there are only three flights that go to Mindoro the whole week. Mon. Sun. and Fri. MLC was on Thursday, so we got there Monday.  We were supposed to leave on Friday, but as we were in the plane and about to take off, they decided to cancel the flight. So we were not able to leave until Monday.  We did have cool experiences on exchanges with missionaries. Finding and teaching the gospel; It just blows my mind how many people are willing to accept the gospel:) As we were on the plane to go to Mindoro before they announced it was canceled I was trying to talk to a couple about the gospel and as I was doing this a person on my right tapped me on the shoulder and just asked for a Book of Mormon and asked me to explain about it:) I just got so happy and he was from Arizona which its really weird to see people that are not from the Philippines that want to talk to you. 

We also were able to do finding with missionaries in Quezon City. They said they were having a hard time finding people to teach especially in the middle class people of their area and they pointed to a place on the map and then I said, "Let's go finding there today!" So we went and every one we spoke to accepted the message. Even people you never would have thought would. It was simply amazing. I believe it was because of Jesus Christ:)

 Well mom, I am excited to work here this next week. We just got done with playing volleyball on the beach for a zone activity, it was awesome:) 

Love, Elder Blackham 

June 30, 2014

I just flew back to Mindoro from Quezon City where we had Mission Leadership Council and it's been a blast. This past week was a week of miracles here in Mindoro. Elder Robison and I have been having so much fun and the Lord has been blessing us with success. I really enjoy going out and doing the Lord's work and the greatest evidence is the Holy Ghost in my life:) 

Just a cool experience, we were teaching a family about the Plan of Salvation and the wife and husband just decided to talk about how they have been fighting and arguing when we aren't there.  So, we just taught about how the gospel blesses families and at the end we knelt down and prayed together and re-committed them to do this every morning and night. When the prayer was over they were both crying and filled with love:) The spirit was so strong and I got to be a part of their learning that the gospel really does bless families. 

Also we were teaching the same lesson to another family and then the father asked what Heavenly Father's name is, I told him Elohim.  Then Elder Robison my companion explained that God doesn't want to be called that; He wants to be called Father. Then he referred to the life of the father we were teaching, and asked "when your kids talk to you, would you want them to call you Von, or Daddy?" It would be so obviously weird to call them by their first name, it would be kind of disrespectful. I realized too or the spirit was teaching me that it is so important to call Him Father because it means that we have a relationship with Him. If we just called him by His first name it would not mean we are tied to Him through and unbreakable bond of love.  Not calling him Father instead actually separate us from Him. It was just a cool ah ha  moment for me as we were teaching where the spirit taught me more deeply the truthfulness of the way we pray:) 

In personal study I have been having such wonderful experiences about the Restoration of the Gospel. I have been thirsting for a greater testimony of the restoration and as I have been studying it things have been becoming so clear to me through the Holy Ghost that this is the only true church with all the truth and necessary ordinances for salvation. Reading from the Bible strengthens my testimony of the Book of Mormon so much and also just running into so many different religions, none of them have proof that its true, they all have their own version of the Bible and argue. But for us it's very simple, there is only one Book of Mormon and one version only that states the truth found also in the Bible but without the Book of Mormon you still don't know.  It's still almost guessing. I know that the restoration is true and that Joseph Smith is a true prophet and that Thomas S. Monson is his true successor and holds the Keys and authority necessary for prophets. I am so grateful for what I have. Nothing is more precious than testimony and that's what I am realizing too. 

Love, Elder Blackham 

June 23, 2014

Out here in Mindoro things are just really going well. We are consistently finding many new people to teach which helps us focus on those who really want to be taught and understand the gospel. I just love teaching so much. I feel there is no greater call than to teach. Every problem I have ever heard has always been solved with more knowledge and understanding. We taught the Plan of Salvation a lot this past week which means everyone's mostly progressing. I love teaching this and seeing their eyes open up and there is this deep familiar feeling to them when we teach the Plan of Salvation simply. I usually tell a story and then show them their role in the story.  When they learn this it's just indescribable to be there and to ask them how it makes them feel to know what we explained to them. It really helps them keep commitments and to overcome their concerns when they know and understand their purpose here on earth and their potential. I have seen it empower them to do things they normally could not or had no hopes of achieving. I am so grateful for the plan of happiness. It really does make people happy. 

Following up on those who I gave study journals too was really great too. In a few verses they wrote a lot how it related to them and how it made them happy. I don't need to teach over and over again the importance of reading when I teach them to have experience and write in a study journal the way I do. When they write their experiences in a study journal I know for sure it will work when they do do it and they will feel the power in their lives. 

We found a family that we are teaching now and have been to church a couple times. They are the most beautiful family. We all kneeled in a circle and prayed as a family and the father prayed. It was so beautiful the Father was crying and was so happy to kneel as a family with their five kids and pray. I couldnt help but to peek as we prayed just to see how beautiful it was to see that image of a family kneeling and praying together. It is so sad though because they are not married yet and the wife is being told not to listen by her preacher brother. So we are going to do all we can. In the end it is up to them but it really hurts because the wife is not joining the lessons lately and man it just hurts to love people. It really hurts. 

ELder Blackham

Sunday, June 22, 2014

June 16, 2014

This week was great:) The branch is really progressing and I am so happy to be here at such a wonderful time:) I am so grateful for being able to see the gospel work in so many other's lives. 

No, there aren't any terrorists here and we can go home as late as we need to. There is not an earlier curfew or anything. There are no terrorists or anything haha. 

Everything is relatively quiet here. Its a very peaceful little island. We are having a lot of success in our work and we are really learning how to work with the branch. I feel so grateful to be able to work with them, they just really lack confidence and need a push and to know that they are trusted. That is one thing that really helped me when I was an assistant was that when I felt the love and trust of president I really did all I could. 

It is interesting to deal with so many people who are so burdened with sin. I like how it says in Lehi's dream that the Love of God is the greatest and most delicious to the soul and brings them the most joy. I hope that people feel that love. I know that thats true:) 

Elder Blackham 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

June 9, 2014

Life is so awesome:) I love being here on the Island of Mindoro. It is very different because here the missionaries kinda run the church. The doctrine and teachings of the church are the same, but the way things are run are very different here, haha. We have already seen lots of improvement and have prayed and fasted for help and now we need to set goals and make plans and expect miracles to happen:) I love the Gospel, that it is a gospel of change:) I know that we can do all things through Christ:) 

The people here are so sweet and I love to teach them and help them realize that there is more to life than a little Island that they live on. There is a recent convert in the branch named Apollo, a 25 year old man and  he has cerebral palsy and it's pretty extreme. He is perfectly fine mentally, but physically he can't walk or even hold anything in his hands and just has zero control of his body. He has a hard time talking but can still talk.  Well, he actually is also a branch missionary and works with the missionaries a lot. We just push him to our lessons in a wheelchair.  The first time I taught with him and heard his testimony it just pierced me through the heart. He talked about before he thought he was worthless and just a burden. He really was thinking, "Why am I here?  I can't move on my own and I can't even hold anything or just it's so hard for me to exist!" He  used to drink a lot of alcohol. His friends would just pour the alcohol into his mouth and they would get drunk a lot together. He said that he knew that everyone in the village knew that he didn't care about life. Then he learned the gospel and quit drinking because he understood finally that he was so valuable to God, that He has a purpose on earth and needed his body the way it was and now he can help others know their purpose too:) He just says, "I really had no idea why I was here, I can't even feed myself. Now I know why I am here and that I am loved even more than I can imagine and that Christ atoned for even me:)"  It's just so cool to see how happy he is, he is the happiest person I have ever met:) This really is the joy and hope the gospel gives:) 


Elder Blackham

June 1, 2014

This past week we went on exchanges in Antipolo, Marikina, Cogeo and Quezon City this last week and it was so much fun:) I love going on exchanges every day:) We did so much work and I felt so happy and blessed to be able to support and love the missionaries and help their work:) I know I have learned so much from them:) They really are inspiring and so much fun to be with:)

This week is transfer week and now I am getting transferred to Mindoro the island in our mission, where they have black outs every day and no stores. It will be so much fun!!!! I get to help out God's work on that island and help the zone reach their potential and help the district over there become the best district in the Philippines,  but only through Jesus Christ:) But I know that with Him all of that will happen:) 

This last week was so awesome:) I hope you don't think from my letter that that feeling of compassion was just for those in poverty or about poverty.The principle is that when we love people we will sorrow with them and be given compassion. This last week we had President Christensen one of the presidents of the Presidency of the Seventy come talk to our mission. It was so cool and He spoke so much about the Holy Ghost. He also talked about becoming a true disciple and that we can know we are becoming true disciples when our hearts will ache when we see others struggle. We will feel this overwhelming compassion when someone is having a hard time and we will long for their welfare.  That compassion will motivate us so that every family we pass we will open our mouths and testify with boldness.  We will feel as the Savior does and not just act like He does. You will not be okay when someone rejects but be consistent and loving. This is what I have been noticing as a gift as I am striving to give my all.
I have been reading Jesus the Christ lately and it is so cool that Heavenly Father created the earth by the power of Jesus Christ. I am just amazed that even God used faith in Jesus Christ to make things happen, I feel we are doing so much less than we can or just living so below our abilities.

One thing I learned more this week is the power of the Book of Mormon. It is really the convincing power. It's so cool, because people will say, I have already read the bible and blah blah and basically say they are not interested but then we say have you heard of the Book of Mormon? Then they say no and then ask what is that? Then we explain and introduce and they read and understand that all good things come from God and that when they read we help them recognize how they feel and when they understand that what they feel is from God because He is the director of all goodness and good true feelings then they know its true:)

Another thing that was cool about what President Christensen taught about the Holy Ghost is that we have it constantly as a gift but that it will not be constant the magnitude of feelings from the Holy Ghost even though He is always with us. This is necessary for us to recognize the gift, because if we felt the Holy Ghost in the same magnitude all the time it would be the same as if we never had it all the time, it would be hard to recognize promptings and when He is or isn't okay with our actions. He is always with us but the magnitude must change in order for us to recognize it. Those that have the gift will always feel impressions when danger is present and things like that but others that don't have the gift don't have that right. 

I am so excited to go out to the island. I am so pumped to have miracles happen there! :)
Elder Blackham

Monday, June 2, 2014

May 26, 2014

This week was really great. We basically have been giving out and teaching about the book we wrote in Zone Conferences to the mission. The stake leaders really  love it and so do all the missionaries. Zone conferences are so tiring haha. But I am so happy we were still able to go out on exchanges this week. We went to Pasig, Taguig, and Angono. Had the best time on all of these exchanges. I love the people so much and the more I get to talk to new people in a day the better my day is. With all the Elders we worked with we had great success and many new people to teach and I just feel more and more the love the Savior has for his people. 

For some weird reason when being on a mission here I feel our minds have a mechanism in them that separates us from crying or feeling overwhelmed by the poverty around us. What I mean by this is when you walk through places and see poverty, mentally it's like hard to accept that people live like that, we seem to be able to handle that this is their life and you don't feel this aching and yearning for them. I don't know how to explain it other than you just get used to seeing families living on cardboard and children begging and just seeing so much of this rough situations that it doesn't phase you so much. But, the other day on exchanges I saw this really little pre-mature baby just lying on a pillow without a crib or anything. I had never seen a baby so small, I was amazed it could be alive. As I looked at the mothers face and at her child I had to turn to the side and shed some tears before turing around and facing them again. I loved them and felt compassion, which came over me like a wave. I am beginning to have these moments more and more, which is weird because I should be more and more used to seeing things like that.  But all I can say is that I feel that I am beginning to feel the way Christ feels for others. As in 3 Nephi 17   " 6. And he said unto them: Behold, my bowels are filled with compassion towards you.21 And when he had said these words, he wept, and the multitude bare record of it, and he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them. 22.  And when he had done this he wept again;"  

Another things that happened that was so amazing is when I went on exchanges in Angono there were some ward members who went with us and one of them was jovie, a member that I had baptized about 8 or 9 months ago. It filled my heart with joy to see her testify of the Book of Mormon with such power, it pierced everyone's heart who heard her. I was so amazed that only 9 months before she was in the investigator's place and I was the one testifying of the Book of Mormon. She is going on a mission and is working right now so she can serve. It is hard to describe the joy which filled my heart and to hold back the tears in hearing such a powerful testimony from someone who was so recently being taught by you:) I remember when we first taught her what the Book of Mormon was... wow people can progress so much in such little time if they have faith in Jesus Christ. 

I have been studying about the atonement in Preach My Gospel and I just love so much how it says that the atonement of Jesus Christ made it possible for us to overcome the effects of the fall. We can overcome all the effects of the Fall,wow is not that the greatest news ever. All sorrow and sin, even death, all of our little weaknesses can be overcome through the atonement. All of it:) I testify in the name of Jesus Christ amen.

Love, Elder Blackham

May 18, 2014

Dear Mom, 

Life is amazing:) I have the best days ever all the time. I get home and I am like, that was the best day ever!!!! Haha then the next day, it happens all over again. I feel it happens because of faith in Jesus Christ.  When I wake up in the morning, I truly believe that through Jesus Christ, it truly will be the best day ever, every day. I always tell the missionaries that I am on exchanges with, "Today is going to be a good day:)" Every single day, I say that just before we head out the door.

We found 17 investigators in one day when I worked with my friend Elder Harris. It was so much fun. We just believed we would find someone everywhere we went and believed that everyone wants the message even if they say they are busy. Then everywhere we went we found people. We just kinda expected it to happen. We were able to teach a lesson to a group of people having a marketing meeting for a company. At first we were at the door because there was supposed to be a less active that was there and then we saw people inside and just asked their names and how they were doing and as we began to talk we stated our purpose and testified and asked to share. They let us in and all of them stopped working, even the boss, and let us share. All of them wanted us to come back:) . It was really great.  

The next day we had tons of success too and I worked with Elder Origines, he is so cool. We were able to get new investigators also and teach many lessons and just were talking to people about this amazing gospel all day:) Reaching the goal of 10 OYM's every day, because of the invitation of Elder Ballard to talk to 10 new people every day, has taught me to have really spiritual and sacred experiences while sharing the gospel to others. 

Just meeting someone new and just completely pouring your heart out in love to them,  promising and testifying as you try get to know them and apply the message to them is so cool.  When you first come up to them they say they are busy and they first try to get out of it but by the end of your conversation with them they are thanking you that you shared this message with them. People are so valuable and so precious, it just is so amazing to me that we get to bring the atonement into someone's life who before did not know or understand it. Their families can be sealed in the temple, and every young man I see, I assume will be a full time missionary. About 95% of the time when I OYM someone and share the gospel with them from the depths of my heart, they accept it. This is not a boasting in what I can do, I feel like I am just amazed that God can soften peoples' heart and do all miracles if you just do as He would have you do and trust in Him. 

I just want to thank God and say how amazing He is.  It is a miracle that He can make someone like me who before could not even speak the language of the people, and was afraid, to someone who expects everyone to accept the gospel, and change their life:) God is so good:) I will forever be grateful for the things and my weaknesses that He strengthens. I can take no credit for any of the success on my mission. All I can say is that as we trust Him and His promises, He really keeps them. In the name of Jesus Christ Amen. 

Elder Blackham

"here's a picture of how tired we are after a week of exchanges, this picture was taken as we were trying to study together"

Thursday, May 8, 2014

May 5, 2014

Elder Hall and I get a long really well. He is a great companion:) 

We traveled a lot this week and we went to the mountains of Antipolo to the province of Binangonan, to the city of Taguig. We had such a blast and were able to share with many of God's children. There was a lesson we taught in Binangonan that was so wonderful. All the lessons are so wonderful and everything, but there is just something so awesome about teaching repentance. We taught a lesson about repentance and the spirit was so strong and so powerful. I learned so much about repentance as we were teaching.  You can tell the spirit is there is when you and the person or people you are teaching are both learning from the spirit. The spirit really broke down repentance in such a clear way for us to explain. As we were teaching about the restitution part of repentance, we went into how i'ts much deeper than giving something back that you have stolen. If you damage a relationship you must try to build it back, if you lose someone's trust you must go to them and strive to gain it back. It is the replacing of the bad with good that happens with repentance. You can't break a friendship and trust; then say sorry and still hate them.  If you hate them the process is not complete. Sometimes it takes time to forgive and repent,  but that's why we need the Atonement. If you have damaged your own heart or self you must seek to make it whole again. I know that part is kinda deep but repentance is like as if we are all glass bottles filled with little white and black rocks. When you repent you get rid of a black rock; but you must replace it with a white rock or else you will be just as bad as you were before. To summarize the spirit just kinda opened my eyes to a part of repentance that creates the inner change necessary to become more like the Savior. 

In Taguig we found and taught a new investigator on our way to another appointment. We taught Him how to pray, and that God is our loving Heavenly Father. Sometimes missionaries will teach that God is our loving Heavenly Father, but that doesn't really mean anything until someone prays to Him. You can teach someone the gospel for years and they won't gain anything or begin to progress, or even come any closer to God until they start keeping commitments to come closer to God. As a missionary we must not focus so much on what we are going to say, or teach because we already know the principles in pamphlets, preach my gospel and scripture.  But, we should focus more on how we are gong to help whoever we are teaching to take their own steps towards the Savior. No one can know God without speaking with Him. No one can know truth without asking. Then when we teach that the gospel blesses families, instead of telling them how it blesses them, we should commit them to have family prayers and scripture study so that they can experience it. There is a big difference there, and we must never be afraid to commit others to living the gospel and then asking and finding every way to help them do it. I know this is the true and restored gospel in these latter days and that God knows it too because He is the one who told me. This is true and we should help people experience it. The gospel is like a "you should have been there story" where we can never truly explain how good it is without actually experiencing it. 

Elder Blackham

Friday, May 2, 2014

April 28, 2014

This was a great week. I learned a lot about gratitude and I was so grateful that we got to work and go with others. Every transfer week we are in the office a lot more than normal.  So, when we finally headed out to go on exchanges for the week it was just like being in heaven. I really think the Philippines is kinda like heaven! Well, at least it is when your sharing the gospel. I know dogs have hair in heaven, and everyone can afford clothes and that its probably a lot different, but I am just saying that it feels a whole lot like heaven. I just love to smile at everyone. I couldn't stop smiling, I just love to be out talking with God's children. I kept telling the elder I was with, "Elder I am just so happy!" He probably got a little bit annoyed, but maybe not. 

There is this one sister that they are teaching that has been taught for two years because she hasn't been able to quit smoking. So the Elders are doing something really cool to help her. They go to her every day and commit her to stop smoking for 24 hours; then the next  day they commit her for the next 24 hours. It is so cool because she is really quitting and it's the best she has ever done:) You could tell she wanted to so badly and she has gotten so close often.  But, this time she is doing way better.

I also had a really cool learning experience and it really relates well to the Plan of Salvation. A lot of the Elders in our mission have gotten new apartments and have moved.  Unfortunately, we left to go without a map or anything. We just had a kinda general idea of where we wanted to go and asked people and taxi drivers for directions. Well.... this didnt work! We had gotten lost every day trying to get to the apartments. It had taken hours to find places and it was so frustrating haha, I felt so lost, it's like a maze. I thought to myself, we have a general idea of where we want to go and where we are going, we even know the name of the place, but we are still so lost. Even asking directions, they would lead to wrong turns and places. I then realized that this is the situation of most people in life. They know there is like a good place after we die or a bad or some general idea, but I realized that if you don't know exactly where you are going, or if you don't have the right directions then you will get lost. The Restored Church of Jesus Christ has all those things including the details; the how and the right directions and a Holy Ghost that will guide you until you reach your destination safely. This also relates to when we finally called the Elders at the office who have google maps on their computer and could see the big picture and as we went they would tell us to turn left or right because they could see it all from the google maps. This relates to how important the spirit is. We need it to guide us back to our heavenly home and fill in all that is not clear to us. The gospel is so beautiful and so simple. I love it:) 
Love Elder Blackham

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

April 21, 2014

I had the most wonderful Easter experience. Taking the sacrament on Easter Morning was such a joy and I really felt such a power. I was so happy all that day. In the bible dictionary, under Resurrection, it says that the resurrection is the most glorious message of all. I pondered this and thought about why it's so important. I discovered  that because of the resurrection, all of our joys and good and relationships and life itself, the lessons we learned, the reason we came here on earth it... it does not end. When without the resurrection, death would be the worst because it would mean no more eternal families, you can no longer feel what it's like to hug your loved ones as you did on earth. Your knowledge and understanding that you can only gain with a body, the joy you can only have with a body will all end and coming to earth would be very pointless if there was no resurrection. I am so grateful and I remember just sharing with everyone that day that Christ lives. I wanted to shout it to the world. I love the gospel and I know how to return to Heavenly Father again:) I am so happy that joy and love does not end:) 

My week on Mindoro was pretty cool too, the people there are so simple, and very much village people. The native culture is much stronger on the islands. There are not very many people, huge rice fields, and tons of water buffalo, and farms(but Asian farms). There are also lots of huts and bamboo houses and fences. It was so so so very beautiful. 

I really enjoyed sharing with the people there, but you can't share the same way with them as you do in the city. Some of them don't know how to read or write, so it's very interesting. You have to really spice up lessons and be serious and bold to help them understand. You have to really completely relate it to their life. I really felt love for them as I shared.

There was one experience where we taught a teenager with other teenagers and found out her father wasn't a member and we wanted to meet him and ask permission to teach to his children while inviting him to be taught as well. He was very happy we asked and we just started asking about his family and life and found out his wife had recently died. I felt this wave of compassion come over me as I looked into his eyes and felt a little bit of the sorrow that he had. I then opened my mouth and proclaimed to him the Plan of Salvation. I have done this before but not with this amount of love and compassion and I was brought to almost tears as I wanted him to know that he could see his wife again and this will make him happy. I felt desperate and willing to say whatever it took and do whatever it took to bless this father. He accepted with joy and the spirit was strong. We had many other great experiences in Mindoro this week. It was great and very humbling experience to see such simplicity in life. 

In response to how I motivate people to keep commitments there are many ways. It really depends. When they don't keep a commitment I act completely devastated, and then  apologize that I didn't teach them well enough and tell them that they do not yet understand how important the commitment is, because if they did, they would do it. I re-teach the commitment and ask them what prevented them from keeping it.  Then we come up with solutions together. Another thing that helps is giving them a baptismal date, because without it there really is no reason to keep the commitments, because there is nothing they are working towards. Also you must teach the doctrine with clarity and always remind them and follow up with them. However important we treat commitment is how important they will treat it so you must do whatever you can to help them keep it. Another thing is that you must be very specific and have them keep commitments that will help them be converted. Instead of just asking them to read their scriptures, I like to teach them how to study their scriptures, by starting with a prayer and keeping a study journal and then close with a prayer and to write down how they feel. When I invite people to repent I tell them to write down all of their sins on a piece of paper and repent of every single one. That is certainly more powerful that just inviting them to repent without teaching them the real deep process. I don't read the list or anything but it helps them understand the importance of being completely clean and feel the difference more in their life, and when the baptismal interview question comes around they can say yes with full confidence about the one that asks if they have repented of their sins. So I hope that answers the question:) 

Elder Blackham
ps. My companion Elder Balolong will go home tomorrow because he is ending his mission, and my new companion is Elder Hall the one that knows the fenners, isnt that crazy. My health is amazing so dont worry. :) 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

April 16, 2014

Going to Mindoro is so cool.(This is a different island than the one Elder Blackham has served on for most of his mission.)  It's just the other side of the Philippines that I never really see very much. Every  one is so much more relaxed on the island, not the missionaries, but the culture. Civilization hasn't really hit here yet haha. It's pretty cool to see the beach and walk along it and play. We joined their zone activity out here with sports on the beach and it was sweet.

People are really accepting of the gospel out here but the chill relax culture prevents themselves from living it too much haha. I had a blast teaching out here and finding people to teach on the beach. To help people get over the lax culture and understand how amazing the gospel is; out here on the island you must be pretty bold, and direct and be more serious. We had a great experience helping people understand things as we testified and were devastated about them not keeping commitments, as elder Holland said we should do. Well I love you mom and it was a great week. 

General conference was just so cool. I am so amazed every time with the ability of General Conference to answer all my needs, I felt like they were talking specifically to me and I am so so so so so excited to read them all. There are many things that I want to do to improve myself and that I learned. I summarized my notes into like 4 main points that God wants me to do for the next six months, and I am excited to dig into it. Well I love you mom and it was a great week. 
Elder Blackham

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

April 6, 2014

What a wonderful week this last week. I saw many miracles and felt the Lord lift me when I literally felt that I could not stand. I felt his love and his strength and I know that we shared with people who are ready to know and live the gospel:) 

We went to Taresa, Quezon City 1, Baesa, and Bogong Bantay. Out in Taresa it is a province or small country town (that's what province means, it's out in the wilderness kind of). So it was pretty far and so beautiful and I had a blast with the Elders there.  I definitely am learning a lot from them. We had someone come up to us on a bike and we just started talking to him and next thing you know we were teaching his family like 20 minutes later. We had great lessons and we were able to truly invite others to come unto Christ and give that day our all. 

Then in Quezon City 1 we found some amazing new investigators and had a lot of fun. The elders are really improving as we are able to go on exchanges with all of them and checking up, it's so cool to see the growth and the change in the mission. 

Then I got so sick I thought I was going to die.  But, I prayed and begged to go out and work that day in Baesa. I drank tons of Buko juice (coconut water) and then when we started working.  I didn't feel it at all, and it was a miracle we got 12 new people/families to go back to with appointments, 5 lessons to new investigators and just had a miracle of a day. I learned a lot about meekness from the elder I went on exchanges with that day. Then as soon as we got home the sickness came back.  The next day we left for Bagong Bantay.  I was able to work but it was a struggle.  I am so glad I was able to head out. 

Then we went back to the office and now I am writing a book/packet about working with wards and getting referrals and helping to harness the powers of the members here. This is a  project that president has me doing and I feel a lot pressure because we will be using this book with all missionaries to build relationships with the wards and the stakes.  We are hoping it will help us get referrals and train leaders and it's just going to be great if it all works out. I want this book and information and everything to be perfect because we are hoping to make a huge change in the mission through this book/packet that I have been assigned to write. I am always on my knees asking for help as I am making this.

It's crazy to hear about i-pads and things in America and hastening the work. There is nothing like that in the Philippines yet.  The church is so new and it is very different than it is in America. The gospel is the same but the church isn't yet the same, but it's coming along.  So this could be a huge change and a strength to the work if it goes the way we envision it. So, yeah, I will be in the office this week working on that. 

My companion is going home, his name is Elder Balolong.  He is so cool, and such a genius!  We are great friends. He is more of a travel buddy, because we have just never worked together in an area. But we do teach work shops together, and training and stuff.  I am so grateful he is my companion. 

I get to see Eric tomorrow night at the temple; president gave me permission to go see him. I am excited for general conference, it hasn't come yet here because we are 15 hours ahead of you so we see it the next week or else everyone would have to stay up till midnight to watch it. 

I will also be going to the island of Mindoro for about 8 days to go on exchanges and do some training so next time I e-mail you I will be on an island. Well the Philippines is an island, so i guess I will just say I will be on a smaller island, haha. 

Anyways I have been studying about covenants a lot lately and they just amaze me with the strength and power we get from them. They have been a great strength to me:) The greatest strength I receive is when I stop and have my personal time with the savior and He helps me so much get a hold of everything and then keep going from there. I need Him literally every hour. 
Elder BLackham
P.S.  All the missionaries are so nice to me. They even sleep on the floor so I can sleep on a mattress sometimes and cook and they are so very kind to me. (This is an answer to a question from Mom about what it is like to work with the other missionaries.)

Friday, April 4, 2014

March 31, 2014

Things are going really well. The Lord is teaching me a lot of things and I am so happy that even though I mess up and struggle; He is so patient with me in my imperfections and hears all of our prayers so personally and individually:) 

This week I was in Sumulong, and Tudang Sora, and Tayuman and it was amazing and I learned a lot and I just wanted to have really bad grammar randomly and so I wanted to make a huge run on sentence. and so haha I bet I don't even need to try hard to get my grammar to be really bad haha. 

Well this week was good, just discovered more weaknesses and things that I need to work on but that comes naturally when you are losing yourself in something.; you seem to see yourself more from a different perspective. So I am excited to work on that because God really does help us. It's another chance to get closer to God. It is so great that the gospel makes up for all of our losses and pains and is what makes everything fair. 

There are people I met on exchanges, members that are very happy and behind their smiling faces you learn that their world and family is falling apart and they are going through trials. I feel it is so important we try to understand others. It has been one of the greatest blessings ever to learn about people and to be interested in them when you talk to them.  As a representative of Jesus Christ, you are blessed with compassion for others and their situations and when that feeling enters nothing can stop you from sharing the gospel with them and the spirit guides you to know exactly what to say, and it all starts with just wanting to know about someone you talk to. That is probably what gives the greatest success on the mission, is that love. There is no greater feeling than ending your day and being so exhausted, and looking back at your day and it was filled with serving others. There is no greater feeling, its like an addicting high, that can't be described, that catches fire in your heart and makes you want to do it 100,000 times over no matter how tired you were at the end of the day, no matter who rejected you or how it went, because you know you spent all the time you had in that entire day to serve others, that is true happiness. I just love that feeling.

My life would be very meaningless if it is not shared with others. I think what am I going to do tomorrow and I then think, I am going to serve the Lord and meet lots of new people and try to make them truly happy, I am going to keep His commandments and then I just get so excited for the next day:) This is so fun:) I know I didn't share any stories but I felt I should just share how I feel:)

Elder Blackham

Thursday, March 27, 2014

March 24, 2014

My week was another great one!   I went from mountain to city to farms and huts haha. It was sweet. I was in Cogeo, Pasig, Malaya, and Tanay this week, All of it was awesome and I wish I could share everything. One thing that happened in Cogeo, someone wanted to debate with us and test out knowledge and bible bash.  These are some of my favorite because I never lose, ha ha ha. I do not debate with them I just simply testify of Christ and that we are true followers of Him. I told them that Christ doesn't like to debate because it is contentious. I testified that all we simply do is what Christ did and that is also what we teach, and that if we don't do what He did,  we can't expect to get back to heaven like He did. It's always so amazing to me that whenever you bring things back to Jesus Christ, they always get so quiet and there becomes no more debate. Then after that they accepted to be taught. That is what I mean by I always win, because I don't really do anything, I just talk about Christ and let the Spirit do the rest:) 

The spirit really does it all to be honest, the best teacher is the one who figures out the language of the spirit. What principles and what things consistently bring that feeling and to listen with your ears and heart and see with your ears and your heart so that you will know what to say. If your only desire is to truly help those you are teaching and love them then you will always know what to say:) I love the gospel so much and I know it's true. I know everyone wants to know it's true. 

I had an experience this week and I actually have this experience a lot when we share with someone who looks like he/she doesn't want to know anything about the gospel at all.  That is when I hand them that list of questions I carry around and then they ask how they can get rid of sin, or what happens after they die and want us to come back and answer it. It happens all the time, I have never had anyone read that list and not pick a question they wanted to know. So it's like proven, everyone wants to know:) 

Elder Blackham

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

March 17, 2014

Sorry I wasn't wearing green today. They don't celebrate St. Patricks day here. But after you said that I put some green on and started pinching everyone in the office, haha.

This week was transfer week so it was really busy and we were only able to go on exchanges with one set of Elders and that was in Antipolo 2nd ward. It was way cool as always going out and preaching the truth and repentance amongst God's children:)

This time we found this grandma and grandson that was in his twenties and they allowed us to share with them. We found out that His Father has recently died and the grandma was afraid to die, so it was the perfect set up to teach the Plan of Salvation to them. I love doing that so much, giving peace and hope for those who really desire something to hope in:) It's the greatest feeling, and they both accepted it happily and wanted us to come back as soon as we could so that was sweet.

Then we had stake conference which was really cool too. My mission president is so awesome and is trying to speak in all the stake conferences and getting all the members fired up to do missionary work. Then we went out and worked again and the appointment fell through so we went finding again and we found one family who yelled out to us and so happened to be that the Father was a member but not the others so we were able to teach them and its so cool how the Lord just provides so many people to teach. The field really is white already to harvest and this really is the time that the Lord is hastening His work in preparation for His coming. 

Then after that it was late and we should be heading home, but then I felt a prompting that someone up the street wanted to know the gospel. After searching around and paying attention to my feelings, we found a nice house with the door open and I felt that that was the one. So we called to the person inside(in the Phillipines they don't knock or use doorbells, visitors just yell in to the house they are at to let the family know someone is at the door) to come out and talk. The man yelled back that he was busy. I pretended I didn't here his answer, ha ha ha,  and asked his name and introduced ourselves. He said he is not interested and then I bore my testimony and taught a little bit about what we teach and asked him if he ever wondered why we are here and what our purpose is. After I bore my testimony he said he really wanted to know about that and then said  he really was busy at that moment and made an appointment for us to come back on Tuesday at 7 pm. He said thank you and gladly took the plan of salvation pamphlet and said he would read it. Woot woot:) Miracles:) .

Persistence is so important because it shows the importance of whatever it is you are trying to help them understand. Whenever anyone says they are busy I always bear testimony that this is worth their time and that this is the most important thing they can be doing right now. It shows also that we had faith that that was the person that wanted to hear the gospel. I truly believe and know with all my heart that there is not a single person who doesn't want to know this gospel. Because they already accepted the Plan in the pre-mortal life. They already accepted it and I am sure they were planning on getting it again before they came to earth. I know that they want it even when they don't know that they want it. In being persistent you can almost always be able to reveal or find the hidden desire within their souls through testimony and questions and promised blessings. I would have  to say 80 or 90 percent of people say they are busy and reject at first but after bearing testimony and asking follow up questions; over 50 percent of that 90 percent that reject it seems to open up and let us in or else they set appointments and eventually share. Its so cool:) Because you get to show how much you love the gospel and know it will help them when doing so. I had a blast over there in Antipolo 2nd.  

In my studies I was reading Jacob 5 and it hit me so hard that this is that time in verses 70-72 that now is that time and we are laboring with our might in the vineyard and this just really really is the time when the Lord is hastening his work and we really need to give our all to get the blessings in verse75:) I know this is true and I love this work;) 

Love, Elder Blackham  

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Pictures (cont.)

Here are some more pictures. I only know the story of one of the pictures and I'll post Elder Blackham's commentary on how he got the stitches.

This is from the March 11, 2013 letter if you want to go read the entire story. Elder Blackham was trying to show his Filipino companion how to do a cross over (a basketball maneuver) in their apartment, which is super small. They ended up bumping heads really hard. His companion got a knot on his head and Elder Blackham got stitches because of the spot that he got hit. 

March 10, 2014

Ang aking Minamahal na Ina,

Things here are going spectacular. I am so grateful for being here really its like indescribably amazing:) Worked in Marikina 2,3,4,5 and Quezon City 5, and Binangonan (these are all wards and areas with missionaries). It was so much fun!!

Miracles always happen whenever you are on exchanges like, always. One experience was we were teaching someone and then someone walks up to the house and says, "I have so many problems" then I said, "That's great, would you like to join us and find out how to overcome those problem and be happy?" Then they joined and she asked if Christ understood her and we shared Alma 7:11-12 and said that He understands her perfectly and it was amazing:) 

Then we were going to go teach a recent convert when we saw a group of teenagers and told them to join the lesson and promised them it would be amazing and they would love it; and they joined us!  It was so so  cool. I have never seen a group of teenagers so attentive and sincerely asking questions like that before. There was about 10 of them and they all looked like wayward souls, if you know what I mean, and it was so great to promise them and teach them about how they are loved so much and that God provides a way to be happy in life and the real kind of happiness that comes from nothing else than doing His will. We taught that disobedience to God brings us away from Him, and they really wanted to know their purpose in life and it was just really strong spirit. I felt this great love for them so much and it was such a cool personal experience for me, I so badly wanted all of them to discover this. 

We also ran into a family that I used to teach in Angono and they moved but they still want to be taught and it wasn't coincidence we passed by them and they recognized me. So cool!

In Quezon City 5 we taught a sister who just lost her baby and wanted to know about the Plan of Salvation, and I just want to testify to everyone that this is true and that miracles do happen, and that these things are not accident or coincidence!  I have seen it and felt it and I still can't and won't ever be able to describe the simplicity and the beauty of this the restored church of Jesus Christ in these Latter days. Its so simple. Christ came to earth and taught us that we must have faith in him, and that we must repent of our sins. Then He himself was baptized by immersion by someone holding authority; then He received the Holy Ghost and then He endured to the end. Then after everything He returned to our Father in Heaven. SO if we do what He did then simply by default we will make it back too. Because it's already been done and He already made it, the path is surely proven to work haha. But we can't expect to go to heaven by doing things other  than what He did or taught or by any other way. Because Christ showed us the way and it is simple and is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Any ways this is amazing:) 

Love Elder Blackham

Friday, March 7, 2014

March 3, 2014

I am glad you enjoy the mission pictures that I sent. I am sure you are thinking, like finally!! But yes you did finally get them and I'm taking more that are so awesome:) 

As far as dinners, usually my companion and I buy packaged food or food on the go. Or eat at calendarias, (those are like little homemade fast food restaurants where you just pick an ulam and they give it to you on the spot) Ulam- anything that you put on rice, usually like  bicole express or chicken adobo, I like gulay too to stay healthy. So you can look those up on google to find out what we eat here:) 

I am so grateful for being a servant of the Lord. Oh how grateful I am for being here in the Philippines Quezon City Mission serving the Lord. There just really is nothing better than this. This week we went Quezon City4, Sampaloc, Tanay, and Bagong Batay.  Sampaloc and Tanay are so far away haha. It's like going from our house in Surprise all the way in Flagstaff, but oh it is so beautiful out there. They are the raw country or province of the Philippines. I took some .cool pictures. 

But that's not the important part. the important part is that we really found some amazing people to teach out there. We were talking to everyone. It's so so so so important to understand your investigator, that should be your first goal as you begin teaching. We had to teach that  a lot this last week. We taught lessons to less actives and I have found the best success with less actives is simply loving them, like the prodigal son and His Father. Just put aside the fact that they are less active, I tell them "I don't care how long it has been since you have been to church. Sure maybe you should have been coming to church, but that's in the past, you can always start being active right now, and the Lord would love you just as much for it and you will be blessed more than you can imagine, I love you and the Lord loves you and you can do it, I promise:)." I talk about concerns and help them resolve it . You just got to be willing to do whatever it takes to help them know they are important and you are willing to work with them and that they are worth working with, and with their weaknesses and help them overcome them instead of just teaching why we need to go to church.  I find that the same works with correcting missionaries. Instead of treating them like they are broken or disobedient, I just say very similar, "I don't care what you have done in the past, you can obey today and I promise you will feel the difference in your life. It's as simple as that but, with the spirit, whatever you say will be effective. Sometimes we need to do this to ourselves when we are discouraged or whatever, to say, oh well it doesn't matter what went wrong yesterday or however far back and choose to be good this day. And day by day you will be better:) There are just so many good experiences and learning that happened this week and I wish I had time to share them all with you. 

Elder Blackham

Thursday, March 6, 2014


Elder Blackham recently sent a bunch of pictures (over 100). There are too many to put on one post so I'll be posting only some of them at a time. None of them had any explanation to them but here are the first ten