Monday, February 23, 2015

Book of Mormon Stories


So this week I am drawing a little bit more of a blank on stories, but I guess if every week I had crazy cool stories they'd be less crazy cool because they wouldn't be as unique.

We had an awesome week though! Tuesday we had interviews with President Passey, which I always look forward too. He's such a cool guy and always helps me see how I can improve and how I have improved.

Hermana Baum and I can't believe how fast the transfer is going! Even though President told me before that I'll probably go back to Spanish for my last transfer, I wouldn't be too sad if he changed his mind and left me here with her!

As some of you may have read on Facebook, I got to call Courtney!! It was so cool! I had shared a little bit of her story with my mission president and asked if I could have special permission to call to check in. He gave me up to 30 minutes to call! I was so excited! It was so cool to hear her voice and see how much she has grown. I'm so proud of her! It was really a blessing and a bit of a miracle that President allowed me to call. Usually any sort of visit or phone call with a friend is highly discouraged.

I got Kiera's letter and bracelet! Thank you!!

I was able to finish the Book of Mormon this week! My theme was promised blessings, so every time there was some sort of "if you...then..." kind of promise I highlighted it. It's amazing how much our Heavenly Father wants to bless us! My favorite though was Alma 26:22 (bold added)

Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing—unto such it is given to know the mysteries of God; yea, unto such it shall be given to reveal things which never have been revealed; yea, and it shall be given unto such to bring thousands of souls to repentance, even as it has been given unto us to bring these our brethren to repentance.

How cool is that! If we repent, exercise faith, do go works, and pray continually, we will be able to bring thousands of souls to Christ! I read this and it served as a reminder that numbers on your mission don't matter because you can never count the number of lives that you will touch.

My new theme is personal revelation: how people prepared to receive it and then how it came. It's a neat story on how I chose this topic. I was thinking about what I wanted to do, but wasn't sure. I asked Sister Passey and she told me to pray and go at it with an open mind, then to start reading. She said within the first few chapters I would know. That, coupled with President Passey's advice that it be something to help me with my transition from missionary to home life, lead to the inspiration for this theme! I am halfway through 1 Nefi and I love it. There is so much to be learned, and I know that it will help me prepare to make decisions on school and things like that when I get home.

If you haven't tried reading the Book of Mormon looking for a specific topic (or if you haven't read the Book of Mormon at all) you should try it! It will change your perspective on everything!

Love y'all, have a great week!

Hermana Blackford


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Good Ol' Saint David

Hola a todos!

I am really liking this new 90 minute thing...I actually have time to write emails! Not that many people write to me anymore. It seems like the longer you're on your mission the less people think about you. Not to be all depressing or anything. I don't mind it's just funny that now I have time and not people to write to and before I had people to write to but no time.

I did get the box!! Thank you so much!! No letter from Kiera though, maybe that will come tomorrow.

And to answer the question that you all are asking (or should be asking), YES Jeff was baptized! Better yet he was confirmed yesterday at church! He was just beaming, as was his wife. And with the exception of Courtney's baptisms, Jeff's was the one where I have felt the Spirit the strongest. One thing I loved that he said in his testimony afterwards was, "God is still in the business of miracles because I'm standing here today." It really was a miracle! I was almost in tears during his testimony (which is saying something because I don't cry).

As for another continuation, that family (the Watsons) that just moved in and the guy came for the first time since he was 17? Yeah the ENTIRE family came to church yesterday, they've already made some friends in the ward. We're seeing them Wednesday, so pray we can set a baptismal date with the wife!

Hermana Baum and I are like a dynamic duo. It's hilarious. She's shy (well..until it's just the two of us in the car or at the house and then she is not quiet. At all.) but knows the gospel really well and is not afraid to talk in lessons. Which is so cool. We laugh so hard together. This transfer is going by wayyyy too fast!

New things for this week: Saturday was awesome! We got up early and played basketball - just 3 on 3 which is means the elders have to include us - and then got ready for the day at the other sisters' place because they live next to the stake cenere where we had the baptism. We did studies at the church, filled the font (we stole the elders' key after basketball and decided we would do it ourselves instead of making them fill the font), and got everything all ready. The baptism went great! Afterwards we heart-attacked the sisters' door before heading back to Saint David to do some service. 'Tis the season to put my gardening skills to use here! We helped begin prepping the ground for some raised beds at our ward mission leader's house. Anyway, after that, we went with Hermana Baum's bomb idea for the afternoon. Friday we made a ton of cupcakes and some brownies (thanks for the cake mix Mom!) and decided that since most people didn't want to see us on Valentine's Day, we'd go and bring cupcakes and share a little message with all the widows we could! It was so much fun and many of them were almost in tears. Everyone needs reminders that they are loved, especially on Valentine's Day!

Oh my goodness. One of the scariest moments of my life! Picture this: it's 8:00 at night in the teeny tiny town of St. David, which like Bainbridge Island, shuts down pretty early. We decide to go try a less-active member who we briefly met once while we were helping out with the blood drive. As we're standing on the porch after having knocked, we hear snarling, crashing and growling in nearby bushes that starts getting closer. You know in the movies where people are being chased and they start pounding on a door for someone to open it and then all of a sudden it gets quiet because whatever it is got them? Well that's what's playing through my head and both of us were so scared that Hermana Baum later told me she was about to just open the door and go in! In this moment of terror, the door opens, and we both jump about a mile high. The dog must have gone the other direction, because we couldn't hear it anymore. We tried to explain why we were acting so weird, but the member just gave us a funny look. I guess she couldn't see the movie that was playing in my head. 

Today was super cool because we went to the temple! It was stake temple day so we got special permission to go. A recent convert drove us out there, and it was amazing. I couldn't come up with a better way to spend a pday! The temple was PACKED. It was so cool. And we bumped into the Willcox elders at lunch! They got moved out of our zone so that was fun to see them.

This week should be good! We have lots of appointments, interviews with President tomorrow, exchanges at the end of the week. Ready, set, go!!

Love y'all!

Hermana Blackford

Monday, February 9, 2015

This Might Be the Longest Email I've Ever Sent Home

Hola familia!

Holy cow do I have so many things to share this week! This has probably been one of the top 5 most incredible weeks of my mission. Hermana Baum, is the bomb. I keep saying that. It never gets old.

Hermana Baum is from Spanish Fork Utah, been out for like 5 months, goes to BYU, and is a top-notch missionary. Super humble so she has no clue, but hands down one of the best sisters in the mission. Like the fact that we will probably only be together one transfer is beyond sad for both of us.

We not only get along well, we get along SUPER well. Haha we're a lot alike except she's kinda shy. But not when it's just the two of us! We do zumba in the morning, except Friday we went to crossfit and I'm still feeling the effects of that workout, and run, we sing and get excited easily, and we love to tell stories. It reminds me a lot of how Hermana Sutherland and I were when we were companions. Up early, running all day, and loving every second of it.

The zone being closed changes pday for us too...and our district is different. It's not a big deal, but honestly the work is the same so not that much changes in the big scheme of things.

Haven't seen Ruth yet but we will sometime this week!

Okay miracle time. You ready for this?

Let's start with our investigator Jeff. He's getting baptized on Saturday! Happy Valentine's day!! I don't think I've talked about Jeff much, probably because he is the perfect example of a golden investigator, but there have been a couple little hiccups in getting the baptism done, but we finally got it and we're so excited for him! His wife is an active member and he mostly wants to get baptized so the countdown starts for them to get sealed. They are so happy they just glow!

Now as for our investigator Seth - he's an interesting fellow. He had this attitude of "I don't have to pray and ask if the Book of Mormon is true because if I study God will just tell me." And as many times as I told him the scripture says "ASK and ye shall receive," he wouldn't. This past Thursday though, we brought our stellar new ward missionary, Sister Ray, with us to go see Seth. To our surprise, she threw down with one of the most incredible testimonies I've ever heard and at then end I asked if he would pray right then to know if the Book of Mormon was true and he did! One of the most sincere prayers I've ever heard. Now I have no doubts he'll be ready for his baptism by March 7th! 

The next miracle would be the Watson family. About a week ago, the Watson family moved to Saint David. Bro. Watson is a member, and some guys from the ward helped them move in. They found out he's pretty less active, but friendly so they told us we should go by. We were at our ward mission leader's house and decided that since our appointment after dinner fell through we'd go see them right away. I made some comment along the lines of, "Man we need like cookies or something to bring them. People have to like you when you bring them food!" to which our ward mission leader's wife said, "Well hey let's make something really quick!" So we did (yummy popcorn with almond bark melted all over it) and went over. We chatted with the couple and their kids for around 10 minutes or so, gave them the treat, offered help painting/cleaning/moving stuff, asked if we could come by again (to which they said yes) exchanged numbers, and left. Smooth contact, right? Well Bro. Watson shows up at church 2 days later. Turns out a few other ward members stopped by to welcome them to Saint David, and he came to church for the first time since he was 17 years old. The guy is probably around 35. Not only that, but he comes up to us after sacrament meeting and says, "Sisters I can't stay because my kids are sick and I need to go help take care of them, but my wife wants to take the discussions. Once the kids get better we'll have you over." It took all my self control to not do a happy dance right then and there.

But oh the miracles don't stop there! On Thursday we stopped by the bishop's house to see if we could meet, but the cub scouts had been there and their activity ran a little late so we couldn't. But they had lots of leftover food, so they gave us an entire Little Caesar's pizza and a ton of veggies. We wanted the veggies, but not the pizza (we're on this health kick). Our next appointment was with a family who is semi-not-really active where the mom is home with the 4 girls during the week by herself because the dad works in Phoenix. "Let's take the pizza to them!" I told Hermana Baum. She agreed, and we brought it in and said,"Surprise! We hope you're hungry because we brought you a pizza!" The girls - the oldest is 13 or 14 - were so excited. The sister goes on to tell us that the little 4 year old has been telling her all week that she wanted pizza, so this was an answer to her prayers. This sister says we were definitely listen to the Spirit, and in my head I thought, "Woah. I didn't know the Spirit spoke through the scale in our room." Turns out even desires to eat healthy can secretly be promptings!

Wait! That's not all! (Just like those annoying commercials on TV haha.) We also received what I believe may be the most referrals I've ever received in a single week on my mission, and had some new people to teach (both investigators and less actives) fall out of the sky. It was crazy. Every day Hermana Baum and I would just look at each other and say, "Can you believe this!?" Here's a funny story that came from one of the referrals.

Our ward mission leader gave us a referral for Brother Orton during church. His wife is an active member and he's not a member at all. Trying to be good little missionaries, we took off after dinner last night to go meet the Ortons, who let us right in and we began chatting. Within a few minutes it was quite clear that Brother Orton is not currently interested in taking the lessons, although he does come to church fairly regularly with his wife. But I don't really like to take no for an answer, and something was telling me we need to teach this brother. "Okay," I thought. "If You want us to teach him, You gotta tell me what I need to say to get him to say yes!" We shared a little message on charity since it's Valentine's Day this week, closed with a prayer, and asked if we could do anything for them. We got the usual "Nope, we're good!" and then it hit me. "Well we have a little favor to ask of you," I said. I could feel my companion listening intently because she had no idea what I was about to say. "Sister Baum is pretty new in the mission, and could really use some practice teaching the lessons. Can we come practice with you? We thought this would be perfect since Sister Orton is a convert and Brother Orton isn't a member. We both grew up in the Church so we don't know what it's like to be on the other side, but you do!" Sister Orton quickly agreed, and Brother Orton thought it over, and then agreed as well. We set an appointment for later that week, and left. I apologized to Hermana Baum (who really doesn't actually need to "practice" the lessons because she teaches very well) for throwing her under the bus, but she replied, "Oh no hermana you can throw me under the bus like that whenever. That was perfect!"

This week I was reminded of my favorite math equation: faith + obedience = miracles. I know there is work to be done and have faith that Heavenly Father will put it in our paths. I am doing my best to be as obedient as I physically possibly can to each and every rule, and we're seeing miracles on the daily because of it. I know that it takes 2 to make this happen, and I'm grateful to be equally yoked with my companion so that it can happen.

Happy Valentine's day! I love y'all!

Hermana Blackford

Hermanas Martin & Blackford, Elders Harris, George & Messinger

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Rain Rain, Go Away

Buenos Dias!!

Wow was this a crazy week - so much to tell! And President now is giving us up to 90 minutes on the computer which means I totally have no excuse for lame emails home anymore.

Hermana Martin and I just started tearing it up this time for transfers.Today I'm getting Hermana Baum (like bomb)! She took my spot in Deming when I left, so yes she speaks Spanish, yes we will talk about how much we love Deming all the time, and yes I am excited! I don't know anything else about her yet.

So this last week was MLC, which meant I spent the night at President's house again on Thursday and had the meeting on Friday. There are a ton of new zone leaders and so the meeting was huge! But as always so good! Our little Saint David zone is being district goes to Sierra Vista now and Willcox to the Gila Valley. So we're in for a few changes! I love sitting in MLC and getting stoked for all the positive changes we're trying to make in the mission. I feel like the Passeys are just what the Arizona Tucson Mission needed!

This week we did a mini-MTC for the San Pedro ward (Dad do you remember when we did something like that back in Maple Grove?) for mutual. It was AWESOME! So we brought all the youth together, role-played street contacting, brought in Bro. Bailey (the now-seminary teacher who used to teach at the MTC) and had him do a language training and he taught them how to pray in Spanish, talked about prepping for missions and then gave them a Book of Mormon to write their testimonies in! It was great. Several of the laurels have come up to us since and asked about doing mini-missions :) And even better, the next day the YW leader texted us asking if we could get her some Plan of Salvation pamphlets for Sunday because as part of her lesson she wanted the girls to roleplay teaching it to a friend. We are going to have the most prepared youth ever coming out of this ward!

We finally got in touch and had a lesson with our investigator Kathy again! Once we started teaching her she had a friend end up with some health issues and she goes to Tucson every day to help her so it's been tough. Honestly she's so golden that I think it's just Satan working to do anything he can to keep her from meeting with us and reading the Book of Mormon. But we're seeing her tonight!!

It rained A TON last week and my shoes and our car got all muddy. Such a bummer.

Oh yeah! I got the funniest text from President yesterday. It said, "Ecclesiastical endorsement is done. Mom knows. And wow, the two of you sound alike. BTW, it's raining at home." I love President Passey. I burst out laughing when I saw it! I am so grateful that Mom is on top of things, and love that as busy as my mission president is that he took time to give Mom a call and let her know that it got done. I also love that he said btw. Haha :)

Cool miracle! So we got a referral for a lady named Ruth from her brother who lives in Texas. We didn't have an address, so we called the brother and got instructions on how to find her house. We showed up on Sunday night and when she first got to the door she said, "Oh girls, I'm Presbyterian. I could feel the I'm-not-interested glare coming, and quickly said, "That's great! How has your faith helped you in your life?" which began a 10 or 15 minute conversation about miracles that she has seen in her life. I then bore my testimony about God being a God of miracles and asked if I could share a scripture. She said "Sure" and as I opened the Book of Mormon in her dim porch light, she said, "Why don't you come in? It's probably getting cold." Although we only stood in her hallway, I read some verses from Mormon 9, and we were able to bear our testimonies to her. She then surprised us by saying she's actually a member! She just hasn't gone to our church in years. We asked if we could come back, and she said we could. We prayed and left with the Spirit strong. I know that when we bear our testimonies and share what we know with others, hearts are softened! It was incredible to watch her demeanor changed as she felt the Spirit.

Love you all! Have a great week!!

Hermana Blackford