First of all, thanks mom for the hug. Brother Brown was able to give it to me this past Sunday. I am glad that the surgery went well, and hope and pray that you continue to improve. Also, the bandaging is very impressive. Thank you also for the care package, especially for the letters. My companion said before we opened it that he hoped the tie wasn't red. I told him if the ties were from my dad, he could bet on them being red. And sure enough. We look forward to matching ties, at all future ward/christmas events. Thank you very much.
Well besides being with the Browns this past Sunday, and having the opportunity to be with them this Thanksgiving, the big news is that we just got back from the San Diego Temple. It was absolutely amazing, and even though i know all temples are equal in the sight of God, it put the dallas temple to shame. It was definitely one of the highlights of my mission so far. The best part about it was that it was enjoyed in 70 degree weather, in the middle of November.
The disappointing news this week was that we were supposed to have a baptism this past sunday for a women named Denise. Unfortunately we got a text about an hour before church saying that she wasn't ready and would have to think about it some more. We went over after church and it seems like it was just nerves, so it should be good this week. Your prayers would be much appreciated. We did however get a couple more people to teach this week, so overall it was a good one. We went by a couple of former investigators and they said they would be willing to resume taking the lessons. One of them is an eighty year old lady whose twin sister just died a couple weeks ago. We were able to teach her about the plan of salvation and bear testimony to her that her sister is patiently waiting for her in the spirit world and that she was most likely taking the lessons from some missionaries as well. I am so thankful for the gospel in our lives and for the perspective that it gives us. Other than that nothing too exciting, although we did get to walk right next to the Indian reservation out here, definitely another highlight. The work continues to progress and perhaps most exciting is that a spirit of missionary work here in the ward has seemed to take root. I give Joe and Sue Brown all of the credit. Here all of three days and they already have the ward on fire, not too surprising though.
Besides Mom's surgery going well, hearing about Brother Ramirez baptism was about the best news I could receive. I do know Jonatan, he is a great kid, and I would be happy to share my testimony with him. That is so exciting, and is an amazing feeling. Tell Brother Ramirez congratulations from me.
Well, keep up all of the great work, and hope that you have a Happy Thanksgiving and that the cowboys continue their streak. I am extremely grateful this week, for the goodness of God. That he would see fit to send his only begotten Son to perform the atonement to complete the plan of salvation on our behalf. Closely behind it, I am grateful for the opportunity to have been raised in the best home ever. To have been taught the gospel in both word and deed at home all of my life and for the wonderful example everyone is to me. Thanks for everything and all that you do.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
I am having a great p-day. We got to play a preach my gospel game today in companion study with the zone leaders. So with that the day has already been made. We are in a full time car here in redhawk, which is great for getting to appointments, but not for staying in shape. Oh well just more of the sacrifices that a missionary makes. In case anyone feels like i am getting too spoiled, this last weekend i went on exchanges, and lost the privilege of having a car. Instead i was on bikes and spent a good four hours riding around in the rain. I was also without raincoat and umbrella, left both of those in my apartment. I got soaked, and i think some of my clothes are still wet, but i now feel like a real missionary. It is also district activity this week, which means some basketball at the stake center, and then next week we get to go to the san diego temple. Looking forward to that.
It is great to see pictures of James, looks like everyone is doing okay and is healthy, which is always good. And it is also good to hear that avery maybe joining me out here next week. You have no idea how many times we get offered to take little kids out tracting with us so that parents can have a break. It gets pretty humorous.
So did you hear about the two missionaries in texas that passed away last week? Was it in the Dallas mission? Don't worry mom we are being very safe, and i fully expect to come home whole and healthy.
So this week was a really good one. We also had zone conference, it was not nearly the ordeal leahs was (all it entailed was a 40 minute car ride down to vista). But it was really good. We learned a lot about how to study and teach, and how to create real usable study journals. I found out that president cook's study journal consists of four filing cabinets, I found someone who might actually give brother harris a run for his money.
In terms of investigators we have had a pretty good week. We are working with one lady denise, who was supposed to get baptized yesterday. But we encountered some setback and have had to move the baptism back at least a week. It was pretty cool though because on sunday we were really hoping that she would get to church but unfortunately she didn't show up. So we stopped by after church to see how she was doing. We found out that she had been up since three that morning debating on whether she should continue with this or whether she should just scrap the whole conversion thing and find something else. Finally she prayed and asked heavenly father for a sign to tell her what to do. Right after said prayer, we knocked on her door. She then told us that she knew this was what needed to happen, and how happy she had become since meeting with us. A pretty cool thing for a missionary to get to experience. After that all the rest of the stories pale in comparison.
Thanks for everything, and hope everyone has a great week. Good luck mom with your surgery hope all goes well. I love this gospel, and still love serving the Lord, somehow it never seems to get old. I love you all, and hope everything continues to go so well. Love Elder Blake
Mom i would like more pens, and more of those moleskin journals, that fit conveniently in pockets. Other than that, just more socks, nutella, ties, and conference talks. Thanks for everything.
Friday, November 18, 2011
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
How is everyone doing? I hope that everyone is doing well, despite the tough week for the rangers. I had known about it, our dinner the other night, upon hearing that I was from Dallas, proceeded to tell me all the events of the last two games, with all of the gory details. We did not get to carve pumpkins for Halloween, but we did go in early last night at 6:30. So there was some spice to life.
The baptism was amazing. And it was really fun. It has been cool to see the change of him between Tuesday and now. We stopped by on Sunday, to see if we could teach their kids, and they were all watching the living scriptures animated story of Nephi as if they were life long members. It was one of those rewarding experiences as a missionary.
We should be having another baptism this Saturday as well. It is for a girl named Keynuana. She is the niece of another recent convert, who moved in with her not to long ago. They are a hilarious family, with possibly the most enthusiasm for the gospel that I have ever seen. It has been fun teaching her, especially because she is only 13, so we get to be more creative with our lessons and slightly less serious. We try not to drive the spirit away too much though.
Mom I am glad to hear that your talk went well. I still haven't given a talk while on my mission. I did however give the opening prayer last sunday. It went well as far as I know. I also haven't heard about sister Seale's Aunt or Uncle but I will be on the look out. I also had dinner with the Secor family on Sunday, and found out that their son, Billy Secor just moved in to the Coppell Third Ward. I assured them that he had a great bishop, but that the stake president was pretty iffy. But in all honesty, if the parents are any indication the Third ward just received a great family.
We are doing great here in Temecula, and although the adjustment has been longer than I was hoping for and not without some rocky patches. The work continues to go along and we are seeing some really cool things happen. For instance, on Saturday we found a lady outside of our apartment. We started talking and found out that she was wavering in her faith about God, and Jesus Christ. We gave her a Book of Mormon and invited her to read 3rd Nephi 11. The very next day we come home from church, and find her in the same spot waiting for us. She told us that she read the chapter, and had felt peace. She admitted that it was the first time in a long time that she had been able to find any peace and she wanted nothing more than to have it in her life. We were able to share some scriptures with her, about how through the atonement we will be able to find the lasting peace that Christ offers us in John 14. It was an amazing experience, and now she is being taught by some other elders. This gospel is true, and truly offers us peace, even when everything else in our lives beckons us away from that peace. I am so thankful for the Savior and his example to all of us.
Love Elder Blake
PS, if you could mail me a real letter, this week. I need some proof of residency to finally get a Temecula library card. One of my lifelong pursuits.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
This week has definitely been one of the longest in my life. Dad you were right, Temecula is about the exact opposite of San Juan. My ward boundaries got about cut in half. The average age of my ward dropped a good thirty-five years. I went from meeting in one of the oldest buildings in southern California, to meeting in a brand new building. I also do not get to enjoy any ocean views. Basically it is out with the old (San Juan that has been around since 1776) and in with the new (Temecula which I think has only really become something in the past twenty years). It is fun though, especially with the Browns being in the ward. Thanksgiving dinner at their house has already been planned, with a visit from the older Browns. Let this be an example to you dad. Brother Brown is such a dedicated home teacher that he doesn't even let my mission get in the way of visiting me. I feel very watched over.
My new companion is Elder Snow, he is from Idaho Falls. This is his first area, he is only six weeks behind me, so it is fun to serve with someone who still has all of his youthful exuberance. The exciting news is that we have a baptism tonight. My first, although I didn't really do anything. We just knocked on this families door, and he said he wanted to be baptized on Tuesday. We told him okay. He had already been taught everything. His name is Nico, and he is an Indian. I feel like I have never before fulfilled prophesy as fully than, I will tonight. It has been a pleasure to get to know him over this past week. His wife is a convert of a couple of years, and now he is going to follow her. They also have a couple of unbaptized kids that we are hopefully going to start teaching soon as well. The work is really happening here in Temecula, and hopefully over the next couple of months we will be able to capitalize on all of the potential here.
It is exciting to hear about everyone at home, although I still feel perplexed about Hansen's Ipad. The real excitment lies in the success of all the Dallas sports teams. I mean how exiting is it to know that the Stars are 6-1. Oh and I suppose the rangers are doing pretty well too. Mom good luck with everything, especially with your foot. I will be praying. I also do not think that I have grown on my mission. I have just been blessed to serve with short companions. I guess President Cook found out about my height complex, or something.
It has been a crazy week with all of the changes. New companion, new ward, new investigators, new apartment, new routine, new Bishop and Ward mission leader, new district, and zone. But I have been impressed that the one thing that hasn't changed is the discipleship to Jesus Christ. I am continuing to declare the glad tidings of this Gospel to the broken hearted, and penitent. And so while it has been overwhelming at times, it is still worth everything. I love this church and this gospel. I love you all.
It was so good to see him!
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
I am glad to hear that everyone is doing well, and by everyone I do mean rangers. The recent sport success around the metroplex is a real testimony builder that sacrifice really does bring forth the blessings of heaven. I hope you get feeling better mom, i will be praying for you. And I really cannot believe that the nativity is starting, I hope that I will be able to participate in one myself here in California.
This week was an excellent one. We were able to meet with Teresa last night, and were able to set a baptismal date with her for November 19th. It was so exciting, and great to see. She still has some word of wisdom issues to resolve so she will need all the prayers she can get. This ward really needs a baptism, and hopefully it will make the ward really excited about sharing the gospel. The only bad part about this whole experience is that I am getting transferred. I do not know where I will be going, I will find out this afternoon at transfer meeting. But by tonight I will be somewhere else than beautiful San Juan. Oh well, it feels good to know that I was able to set at least on baptismal date before I left.
The other exciting news per the missionary work in this area, is that we were able to pick up a new investigator. His name is Herbert Brown, and he is actually our neighbor, he just lives a couple houses down from us. He has had a rough time the past couple of years, as a lot of people have, and has decided that he needs to have a strong faith that he needs to fall back on. He has a pretty solid christian background, but said that he needs to move from the intellectual side to the spiritual side. Or become a christian and not just know christian theology. He is really cool, and seems pretty interested, unfortunately i wont be here to see how things work out. Phil continues to work on his house, and we continue to help him, it was hard to say good bye to him, but he says he is coming up to byu whenever i go back to go to a football game.
This week I have been thinking a lot about our lesson with Herbert. I realized that our charge with him, is the same that president Eyring received from President Hinckley. We need to get the gospel of Jesus Christ into the people's hearts. I have thought a lot about my own life and experiences that have helped get the gospel into my own heart. I realized that it is a slow, and somewhat daunting thing, but because of that it is an act of faith to help someone gain their own testimony of this church and gospel. It may seem hard, tedious, and at times fruitless, but above all it is the most important work we will ever be apart in. This is the work of the salvation of souls. Of course it is not easy, it is a real battle that we are fighting. It was not easy for any of the missionaries before and certainly not easy today but it is the Savior that makes it all possible. But it is true, and it is worth every effort, and trial. I love this gospel, I love the atonement that makes it all possible, and every principle and ordinance that is a part of it. What a privilege to be a part of it, however small. Hope everyone is having a great week. Love you all, and go rangers.
Love, Elder Blake
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Glad to hear that everyone is doing well in Northern Texas. Especially those Rangers. Hope they can keep it up, I can't believe it’s already the playoffs. I will keep praying for you mom, and I hope that everything works out. They always do, sooner or later.
Well, to finish off the priesthood session quiz, Bishop McMullin spoke about our duty as priesthood holders and spreading the priesthood power. I think that makes me current, and I will now be expecting a Braums ice cream shake when I get home.
This past Sunday was a water shed moment in the Capo 2nd ward, I believe. We had four non-members at church, and a full gospel essentials class. Pretty impressive for a ward that has struggled mightily to get investigators to church and considering the fact that we usually have to disband the gospel essentials class due to lack of attendance. The most exciting attendee was a lady by the name of Theresa. She is from South Africa, and is a dance instructor. She had been going to a different ward for quite a while but finally made it to our ward where she belongs. We had a great discussion with her, and should be meeting with her again this Thursday. We are really excited about her, and to see her grow in the gospel. The other people who came, were all friends of members. It was great to see so many people there who weren't there because of our efforts.
I am aware that the elders who replaced the sisters live on Aunt Winnie’s street. And since we car share with them that means i pass by her place every week. I am guessing that the donkeys are doing well, due to the elders saying she has a donkey bumper sticker. We also met some guys on the street who is a member of a local band. They said that they knew about the Donkeys and liked their sound. Pretty cool. Well, that is pretty much it, not much else exciting has been going on here in San Juan. Hope everyone is doing well in Texas. I am doing well here. I continue to love this gospel and the opportunity to teach others about it. It does change lives for the better.
Mom the only thing i can think of is more conference talks to be honest. I might be addicted.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
About a month ago my husband, neighbors and I where visiting in the front yard. Your son and his colleague where walking by.Linda and Jim Koutroulis
We spend about a half/three-quarters of any hour speaking with them. You should be very proud of your son, he handled himself in a very courteous, informed and professional manner.
We enjoyed the time they shared with us.