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