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"