Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Biking, biking, and more biking

Hey y'all!
 

Since I know you're all sitting at your computers and on your smartphones waiting to hear the transfer news (or not haha)...I am staying in the Gila Valley with Hna. Lundquist! The whole mission got shook up pretty good so we're one of the few companionships not changing around here, which is kinda cool. We're sad to say goodbye to Elder Evans, our district leader who will be going home tomorrow, Elder Preciado, our zone leader, Elder Nichol, our personal trainer, Sister Weaver, and Sister Pearson. #bestzoneever
 

The new people seem pretty awesome though, and they pinkwashed two areas in the other zone, so now there are 5 companionships of sisters in the Valley!! Sisters are taking over :) #hermanapower
 


Sister Allred is doing good! She's on crutches/scooter for 3 more months, but her ankle will heal up. She gets to have a plate and screws in her leg the rest of her life, so yes she will always set of the alarm at the airport. She thinks it's pretty cool, and so do I!
 


The workout is KILLER. What makes it better is that we ran out of miles, so I biked a lot this week too! Tuesday I was on exchanges with Hna Wright (yes, as in my old comp) out in Silver City NM and we biked ALL DAY. And that place is super hilly! So I hurt bad after that. Thursday and Saturday we biked a bunch here, and we somehow came out 100 miles under our limit! #blessingsfrombiking We both have gained weight on our missions (maybe because we eat Mexican food every day) and are not too thrilled, so hopefully this will help. I do know that I am getting stronger because I can bike a lot farther a lot faster and we upped the weights this week at the gym.
 


We had a really cool lesson with Veronica last night! She had been in Phoenix for a few days so we went to go see her and talked about modesty (we're going through For the Strength of Youth with her right now), though somehow it turned to them getting sealed in 10 months (but hey who's counting?) and how she's already looking for modest wedding dresses. She told us "I'm getting ready to get married for real this time!!" Haha it was so cute. She has her temple recommend for baptisms, Jerry is getting his Sunday, and they want to go do baptisms together. Plus they're going to San Diego sometime this summer and she wants to do baptisms there because ever since she was little she thought that temple was so beautiful. Sound familiar? I told her she has to take pictures at the temple because it's my favorite.
 


Everything is going so well out here! It's getting hot. Honestly if it's below 90 it feels cool. It was in the 70s the other day so I wore a sweater. Ew. I'm turning into one of them!!! #AZheat
 


Oh yeah Grandma asked me about my tennis match last week. Elder Nelson and I didn't play any singles because there was only 1 court at the members' house, but sometime in the near future we will. Because we're pretty evenly matched and were both just itching to get an intense game going. #totallygoingtokickhisbutt Maybe next week. But it was so fun to play again. I have missed tennis!
 


Well I'm out of time and it's also after 1 and I haven't eaten lunch, so I'm gonna go. Love you all!

 
Hermana Blackford
 


P.S. Our zone really likes hastags. They're meaningless for us, but we send really long ones that make no sense a lot.
 


P.S. again: I'm going to send a couple pictures!
 
 
 
Zone Picture May 2014


Hermanas Blackford and Wright on their Bike Day!


Monday, May 19, 2014

What a Week!

I can't believe it's only been a week since I emailed. SO much has happened it's a little insane.

As for transfers, I have no clue. I can see myself staying or going. I LOVE the Valley so much and have no desire to ever leave, but if it was my time to go that's fine. I guess you'll find out next Tuesday :)

I don't remember if I told you or not, but Elder Nichol wrote up a workout program for us - 4 weeks of building muscle and 2 weeks of cutting. I hope I don't get transferred so I can still go to the gym and finish it!! Today was day 1...and I'm already sore. In his words, "Week 1 will be hard, week 2 will be hard, and then it will get better." Also we were told to use Elder Nichol's name in vain a few times. Haha it's a tough workout. His comp called it "The Biggest Loser for skinny people."

Today's activities were planned by us!! Woot woot! One companionship of elders requested we teach a tortilla-making class (which is supposed to start in 20 minutes) and I found out Elder Nelson likes to play tennis, so you can imagine what I'll be doing the rest of the day :)

I'll finish with the hike last p-day (because both Mom and Grandma asked about it and it's the craziest story). Before I begin, let me just say this place was even MORE legit than we thought it would be and no doubt I'm coming back to hike around and explore more after my mission. It's basically a HUGE rock that's full of caves and stuff that we were climbing around and exploring. All was well and we had so much fun. Then we saw a smaller entrance that went about 20 or so feet down and opened into a huge cave. A couple of the elders and Adam, a YSA guy with us, climbed down and hollered that there was another way out so we could all come down and climb through. I went down next, got most of the way down and then the last 8-10 feet were a little tricky. They guided me part of the way down, but on almost the last step (I was probably like 4ish feet up) my hands slipped and I fell because...well frankly because I'm too short and couldn't reach the next place. Thank goodness they were right behind me because basically I fell on Adam and the two elders quickly grabbed me and just set me down. A few scrapes, but I was fine. A couple more sisters came down, and they just jumped the last few feet instead of attempting what I did since obviously it didn't work. When Sis. Allred came down, she landed wrong and the 6 of us that were down there heard the sickest snap I've ever heard. I'd never heard a bone crack before, but now I sure have. Instantly we all knew it was broken, and we stood there for a second before we sprung into action. We knew there was 0 chance of her walking out. Adam climbed back out to call search and rescue, and the elders gave her a blessing. She was calm and fine the whole time, and after the blessing felt no pain...actually she felt no pain for several days. (This is one of the stories that can't really be told until I get home, but just know this easily will have been one of the top 5 most spiritual moments of my mission while we were down in the hole). It was just Hna Lundquist and me, Sis. Allred and Sis. Pearson, and Elder Nelson and Elder Nichol down there. Once the blessing was done, the elders set to work on a splint, made from rope, sticks, and Elder Nelson's pant leg (as in his denim shorts were now 1/2 daisy dukes and 1/2 knee length...haha we all were laughing so hard). We stayed and talked with Sis. Allred, who was laughing, chatting, and telling stories. Needless to say the 6 of us that were down there are all now really close. Anyway, search and rescue came, hoisted her 60ft up and out of the hole - luckily there was an opening directly above where she had fallen. Then they ziplined her down the mountain, we drove her to the hospital and got x-rays. She's going to heal up fine (she had surgery on Friday) and won't even have to go home from her mission.  So all week (since she's on bed rest) we've been doing exchanges with the sisters, trying to juggle our area and help them out for a few hours. The members in their wards have been doing lots of splits, so they're doing awesome. Talk about an adventure though!

I wish I could explain the miracles surrounding the accident, but that would take hours. Since the moment it happened, all of us have seen the most incredible miracles and the 6 of us that were down there have talked to each other and just been in awe of how we were really blessed. Even Sis. Allred from the moment it happened said she had the most overwhelming feeling that it needed to happen. It was one of those times when we all saw how powerful the priesthood is. I've never been so grateful to worthy priesthood holders as I have on my mission. The priesthood power is REAL. It is literally the power to act in His name. Anyone who was with us that day can't deny the Spirit that was felt and can bear testimony that we were guided to know what to say and what to do. I know that Heavenly Father has His plan, but that He loves us and will help us understand why we have to go through hard things if we sincerely ask. There is always a reason!

Love,
Hermana Blackford

 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mother's Day Visit!

Hey!

Well since I Skyped yesterday I'm not really sure what to say that's new. I guess Mom will just have to write something about the Skype call to make this more exciting.
 
Let's see...like I said Ernesto (our gangster) dropped us this week so that was super rough. It's moments like those when you realize how much you really love the people you teach and want them to progress and be baptized. Because to say we were sad would definitely be and understatement.

Today we're headed off to hike Red Knoll. We drove past it on our way to and from Ft. Thomas last night and it's like a ginormous rock with holes in it. I'm stoked. It's supposed to be a pretty intense hike. Just the way I like it :)
 
Let's see...oh yeah I got sick earlier this week and then after a day and a half was like "Okay time to get a blessing." So I did and within a few hours was fine. Turns out the Church is true and the priesthood works. Haha not that I didn't know it before, but tender mercies like that always remind me.

Oh! So Saturday was rough. Like no one was home and we talked to some SUPER rude people. Like my companion almost exploded at them. It was bad. Plus it was in the 90s. Anyway so that evening we stopped by to visit Hna Larson, and she could tell we were a bit worn down and asked what was up. She already knew about Ernesto because she had come with us to lessons with him, and so we told her about the rude people. She asked if we had any other appointments, and we said no since it was already after 8. She told us to get in her car and took us to the store and bought us popsicles - like Blue Bunny ones. And it was 3 boxes. So awesome! You must be taking care of the missionaries back home because the members are definitely taking care of us here.

Miss and love you all!!

Hermana Blackford
 
 
Dear Friends and Family,
 
Getting to talk with Hermana Blackford was  a great Mother's Day present! Erin looked happy and well. She was her usual energetic and enthusiastic self. As she talked about working with other missionaries I suspect her energy helps boost her district and zone.
 
As you can read in her letter, she has days that are discouraging and it's not all fun, but she bounces back quickly (just as Braden did on his mission).

She did tell us that there are quite a few sister missionaries who will be completing their missions over the next few months (about 9 or so) and that there are not enough coming out to replace all of those. The numbers of missionaries going out are starting to drop a little now that the age change has been in effect for a while and there isn't a huge pool of newly eligible people. With the reduced number of sister missionaries coming out there is the possibility that Erin will be a trainer sometime this summer. With the reduced number of missionaries heading into the mission field that also means fewer Spanish speaking ones so Erin could possibly get to stay in Spanish areas more - which would make her very happy.

We miss Erin but we are grateful she has this opportunity to serve others and for her own growth. We are coming up on 2 1/2 years straight of having a missionary out there and it has been a blessing for us at home as well.

Hermana Blackford loves the emails and letters from anyone so please continue to write or start! Doesn't have to be long or detailed - share a missionary experience you've had, something you are grateful for, or an inspirational message - missionaries enjoy hearing from friends, ward members and family.

Keep Erin and other missionaries in your prayers, bring them into your homes for dinner, give them hugs (when appropriate) and encouragement, help them find those searching for the gospel, be a support/friend for those who are baptized. Doing these things will bring blessings to you as well.

We appreciate your support of our children as they serve missions!

Michele


 

Monday, May 5, 2014

#GilaValleymissionarylife

Heeyyyy!
 
This week was what we deemed "beast week." We'd had a slow week the week before and hated it, so we were like okay let's get this place hoppin' again. And we did! We were so busy AND we had to do exchanges which = drive forever and a day to Lordsburg. Do work!
 
Alright so to answer questions...
 
We definitely work WAY more in Safford than anywhere else. That's where we have the most investigators and members. We feel bad and wish we could spend more time, especially in Pima, but our area is so huge we physically can't cover it all equally.
 
Enough referrals...haha funny you ask. Last transfer, yes! But lately it seems as if the members are a little referraled out. But we're working on a way to fix that too :)
 
We attend the temple once every 4 months, just like the rest of the mission. No special privileges with it so close. Except that we can have lessons on the temple grounds, and that's hard to beat! The temple was AWESOME this week though. Got to see one of the new movies and going to the temple with other missionaries is slightly weird, yet really cool. I love being around other missionaries because we're all kinda at the same point in life.
Story time!
 
We had a miracle this week with our investigator Ernesto (yes, the gangster). One evening after dinner, all of our plans and backups had fallen through or cancelled. It was about 8 in the evening, and we were debating whether we should go home and do language study or if there was someone who needed a visit from us. We pulled over into a gravel parking lot and prayed. We sat there, still not sure what we needed to do. After a couple minutes, our phone rang. It was Ernesto, who had cancelled an earlier appointment. He asked if we could come over right then. We were ecstatic, and then realized we couldn't go in without a member since he's a single man. We called one of the hermanas in our branch who lives nearby, and she said she would love to go with us. We had a wonderful lesson about the gift of the Holy Ghost to help him prepare for baptism at the end of this month. And I think we learned something about the way the Spirit works through our experience that night as well. To end it all he came to all three hours of church yesterday!
 
Other exciting news...hmm. This whole week was a bit of a blur. Just work work and more work. I guess last p-day was interesting. We didn't exactly hike...it was more of an adventure. We went up to a place called the Gila Box (I even remembered the name for you Mom so you can stalk where I've been) and looked at the river. Just looked and skipped rocks and nearly died because we couldn't get in. I told Elder Nelson (he's the new ZL this transfer...I guess now it's been 3 weeks) that I'm from an island so this was killing me and he wouldn't even believe me at first! I was like no la neta I'm from Bainbridge Island. Then he was all like "Oh so one of those little peninsula fake island things." I was like "Oh heck no! It's a legit island!" Hna Lundquist backed me up on that one though since she's from T-town and has been to BI before. I think what made the argument so funny to everyone else is that I was so sassy to someone twice my height. He's 6'4" so I literally look up to him...all the time. If you look in the picture of us in the mirror at lunch I'm sitting between my comp, who's 5'9" and Elder Nelson, who's 6'4". It's days (well...every day now) like that where I feel really short.
 
Let's see...we got a free gym membership! The owner of the women's fitness center like half a block from us is Sister Killpack's (mission president's wife) niece. So Sister Killpack hooked us up with that one because a couple weeks ago when they were here she was out for a run and saw us jump roping on the sidewalk in front of our apartment and thought we would appreciate the gym instead. So now we get up early to work out for an hour, which I was pretty stoked about.
 
So...yeah. That's all I can really think of. I really need to take notes or something of things to write about because I swear every week I spend 10 minutes just staring at the screen and wondering what to say.
 
Love you all!
 
H. E. Black.

 
 
Hermanas Blackford and Lundquist at the Gila Valley Temple



Up close of Hermanas Blackford and Lundquist at the temple


Elder Tolman enjoys the grass


Lunch with ZLs and DLs