Thursday, December 29, 2011

Weekly Letter: December 20-26, 2011

para mi familia:

It was great to talk to you guys yesterday. Just one thing of business that I think would be good to resolve. Right now, pouch mail doesn´t come in too much. So it may be a good idea to send Seth´s letters by email...I´ll just print them out and read them later. I think that it would not be the best idea that I keep on receiving letters from him even when we´re both home. I don´t know how DearElder will handle the letters. I just think that in mid January would be good to stop sending me dearelders to avoid the whole situation. (not that a lot of people write me apart from you guys....)

I really feel like the Lord is preparing all of his children, Mexican or otherwise, to accept the gospel. I love every one of you guys....thanks for taking the time to talk to me....and, Mom, just so you know for when other missionaries are in the field: the part where you start crying makes it sooo hard for us to hang up. I love you so much! Elder Granados seemed to notice me more pensive the other day, and he said "Come on, lighten up! You´ll see them in two months!" Little did he know that his saying that really only put lemon juice on a open wound.

Well, you already know my changes. Elder Granados left early in the morning to go to Argentina...and I got to Atlatlahuaca about three hours ago. My companion is Elder González from Tuxpan, yet again I get a "jaracho" as a companion. Elder Javier, Elder Quiroga and Elder González all are from Veracruz. He is pretty cool from what I´ve seen. We actually live in a town called San Bimas which is about 20 minutes away from the Chapel in Atlatlahuaca...and our area consists of some 12 different this will be interesting. I have no idea what any of them are called except San Bimas, Atlatlahuaca, and Tenango...other than that, I don´t know what my area consists of. In the Area book there are maps, but they are simply of the different pueblos and none of them show their relation to one I hope I won´t get lost.

I had first heard of Atlatlahuaca from a companion I had almost a year ago in Independencia. His name is Elder Perez, and I was his last companion in the mission. He talked about Atla a lot, I think it was one of his first areas, so I think that explains it. I´ll be honest, Plateros wasn´t my easiest area, but it still has a special place in my heart because it was my first area. So I´ve heard quite a bit about this place, both good and bad. I guess this change I will be able to distinguish what is true and what is not. I have a relatively new missionary as a companion, and I haven´t heard much about him, which is good because when someone starts the transfer after hearing loads of rumors about the guy, it´s really had to start the change well. I´ve found that with several of my companions, a lot of people said a bunch of things about them, but I ended up getting along with them pretty well. I think that´s why I like to train so much, you don´t get down on your companion for some small prejudices that could keep you from working your best together.

I really can honestly say that I wish I had more time. It hurt so bad when my companion would say that he wished to be in my shoes, and I often told him that I wished to be in his shoes, but I don´t think he believed me....then again, when I started the mission I didn´t believe the missionaries that told me they wished they had more time in the mission. I was like: "You want to go back to not knowing the language, not knowing how to teach, not knowing how to contact? You want to stay another 2 years away from family and friends? You must be crazy! You´re just saying that to not look trunky!"

Well, I regretted those thoughts when Elder Granados verbalized them to me last change. I can honestly say that I have been happier in these two years than in my life. It´s not that I don´t miss my family or anything that I used to do´s not that I don´t want to have learned Spanish. It´s just that I love what I´m doing. I have a well defined purpose here...and I do all I can to fulfill it. Whenever I catch myself thinking into the future, it´s distressing, it´s so full of uncertainty. Am I able to get a job? Am I able to get my foot operated on? Am I able to keep contact with the friends I made here without wasting my time? Will there be any of my friends still single when I get back? What am I going to study when I get back? I am here in Atlatlahuca and I´m pretty full of uncertainty. I don´t even know where the chapel is! But it´s completely different. I come here, I know what I have to do and more or less how to get along with it. I love this place.

Don´t think I´m trunky... I´m not. This time is too precious to become trunky...but I am pretty solemn before the idea that 6 short weeks are between me and home.(and a pretty long plane ride) I love you all.

I love you all. Keep praying for me!


Elder Blackham

Weekly Letter: December 13-19, 2011

para mi familia:

Thank you all for the letters that you gave me. As far as I know next Monday will be a normal preparation day. Here, the big deal is really the 24th going into the 25th. Kind of like New years in the U.S. They wait until midnight to welcome the Christ child. It seems that the Catholic Church is totally against the idea that the 25th isn´t actually the day the Jesus was born as the many scholars (and modern-day prophets) say. But I feel that it is a nice tradition.

Sunday, we are just having one sacrament meeting at 9:00, we are hoping to have a white Christmas....but in the baptismal regard. So my companion is going to have his parents call him at 11:00, so I guess you could call me at 12:30, to make sure we don´t get tangled up in phone lines. I hope that his parents know how to call DF!!! I guess we´ll call you if something happens and I need you to call me later.

Sounds like a lot of people are getting married!!! Haha, I think I´m not going to be able to though! That is pretty weird, but it´s pretty interesting hearing about it. I have had very few writers in the mission...just Seth....or rather whoever it is that sends me his letters, Jason Brown my roommate from BYU(that was my hometeaching companion...the one from England), but they´re both missionaries so I haven't been really expecting hearing about them getting married anytime soon. So far, just the marriages that you mentioned last week, and of Betilee, who got married quite a while ago. But other than that, I haven´t really been in touch with anybody, but I guess in a few months that will change.

Anyway, instead of dwelling on that unpleasant subject, I will tell you about my week. I can´t remember if I told you guys last week, but this week we decided to leave EVERYBODY. We had had a lot of troubles with a lot of investigators. We decided to let things cool off for a while and see if later they´ll want to progress. Meanwhile, we decide to begin the search for the chosen! We met it with some great success...but mixed success as of this Sunday. We found this family that wants to get baptized and wants to move on with their lives. We want to marry them to get them baptized, but only the mom went to church :(.... We also have another good family, the daughter had been through a very bad accident, and the dad wants to kick everybody out of the house as soon as she heals up....but the mom smokes, and didn´t go to church like she committed to do...I think for shame of not being able to meet the goals we set.

We also found out that one of the families we thought of leaving doesn't want us to give up on them. They showed up to the ward Christmas activity, had a great time, but then Sunday.....nothing. My companion and I are obviously wondering what we´re doing wrong...what we have to do to be able to get more success going on. However, in these Christmas dates, Christ is usually the last thing on their mind.

However, this week we found out that just putting in our best, we can find several families that are ready for the gospel. So I guess that in that way, we will be put this to the test in these next few weeks between Christmas and New Years. It´s been hard to get people to commit to go to Church on those two days because they have several plans as a family to do things. However, we are not discouraged... we know that there are people waiting for us to knock on their door, to stop them in the street, or sit next to them in the bus. We just have to be ready to recognize those moments and take advantage of them.

Time is short...I will have to thank every single one of you for what you have done for me, for the support that you´ve given me. It´s greatly appreciated. Please keep praying for us! We need some help to have white Christmas and New Years.

Love you all, take care and Merry Christmas... We´ll be talking at 12:30pm (that´s my time)!


Elder Blackham

Weekly Letter: December 6-12, 2011

para mi familia:

Alright so first of all...I don´t know if you heard about the earthquake in was SWEET!!! It was 6.8 on the ricter´s scale, but the epicenter was in Zumpango, Guerrrero, which is somewhat far here it was about a minute in which things were shaking. I was actually talking on the phone at the time and suddenly I felt like I got dizzy. We were in the street though, so we couldn´t see anything happening, but the zone leaders were telling me that it was earthquaking....and I was like What!? I then looked around and saw this parked car shaking like crazy, and I was like "Wow! I´m in an earthquake!" but it only lasted a minute here.

Then for Christmas.... We will also only have a sacramental service on the 25th at 9:00 (only it would be an hour in difference, but I forget if it´s an hour earlier or later than you guys figure it out.)

Well, now to business. This week was way that we are going to leave a lot of investigators that we have. They just seem to not progress, and so we are going to be exercising the faith in what Elder Johnson said and simply leave them so that we can get to the chosen investigators. Some of them are really cool and have accepted baptism...but they just don´t want to progress...and we are just wasting time with them because while we keep going to their house they are content. It is going to be hard to leave many of them behind, but looking at the success that we´ve had in finding cool investigators, I feel that the Lord has been trying prepare us for this. He knows that I have a hard time leaving investigators, especially if there isn´t anybody to replace them with, so this is a good thing. We had 6 investigators in church this week, and they all loved it. 3 had already gone, and just have to get the marriage worked out so that one couple and the wife of another couple can be baptized. The other three are also needing some rings so they can be baptized.... speaking of which, I wonder if we will still be able to get people married in these next weeks...I hope the Lawyer that helps us out doesn´t bail on us these weeks...because we want a WHITE in baptizing, snow does not exist here. (actually, I explained what icicles were to a member and she understood what I was talking about because she saw them in photos or movies, but neither she, her husband, her mom, nor anybody else knows what they´re called!)

We are really focusing on getting the ward animated about some of the people we are teaching. We are working with a few references that they gave us, and they look like they could be a lot of work to get them progress in comparison to some of the investigators that we´ve been finding, but I think it will be worth the effort if we can show the ward that their efforts to give references will be valued by the missionaries...and so we will have MORE references.

So our focus these weeks will be to get a lot of inactives or new members and investigators to the ward Christmas party, and hopefully work to get some of the more excited members to help us out in visiting them. We´ve been kind of waiting for something to happen in the ward, but I realize that while we are waiting for these things to happen nothing will happen.

Well I got to go now. Talk to you next week about Christmas.

Love you all


Elder Blackham

Weekly Letter: November 29-December 5, 2011

para mi familia:

I guess I´ve been a rebel before now. My president has always told us to count the days we have left in our mission from the very start, with hopes that we will work every day out to its extreme. I´ve always been too lazy to count them. It is only now that I have just completely 22 months in the mission that I realize that counting the days would not be a taxing effort....but it is not something that I want to do all the same. Next week maybe I´ll repent and tell you the day-count...but I feel uncomfortable doing so now.

This week has been one of my hardest in the mission, but with it comes a lot of promise for this and the coming weeks. It seems like God is always having me make adjustments in the way I work, and I always seem to go too far and have to make the adjustments over again. I feel like I´m working harder than I ever had, but we´re not having the fruits that we desire. This is maybe the last week that my companion is here in Mexico (he signed his Argentine visa last week.). I really feel that I have been an inadequate trainer. He talked to the president about some issues that he felt he hadn´t resolved.The president assured him of his worthiness and sent us on our way. Then, he starts to feel bad because he doesn´t feel the spirit, and hurls all the teaching on me. He´s a great missionary with several of the feelings that many missionaries have when they first start out, but he refuses to be consoled.

I don´t know. It was a really rough week....a really humbling week. I realized this week that I don´t have all the answers. (I bet you all are thinking, "well duh!") I realized that I like to have control over the situations. I realized that I don´t want this missionary to take a year and half like I did fighting to do what the Lord wants instead of what I want to do, when submitting to the Lord´s will really is the much easier way. (I´m still struggling with the personal sanctification, but it really does help.)

We had a great meeting with Elder Johnson this week. It was very humbling hearing what he had to say to us. I felt that I had more or less an idea of how to work in the mission. But I realized after the reunion with him that I had been working wrong. We are here to find the people that are already ready for the gospel....we are not to be working constantly with people that are nice enough to open the doors and listen to us, but really aren´t willing to make the changes in their lives. He fundamentalized the form in which we should contact the people. We are not here to sell the gospel, anyone in any church can do that. We are here to testify.

We had such an experience with Esmeralda last night. Getting there, we were talking, and I felt that we weren´t getting anywhere, that we were just going in circles around the question of baptism. We decided to talk about obedience, and then we talked about the first commandment. It was good up until the point we started talking about baptism. She started shutting herself to the conversation, and suddenly I realized that I was testifying and my companion gave some testimony, but then would immediately give me back the word. It was not like him. I felt like suddenly I was alone. Finally she started to open up to us, and she described that her mother and several family members haven´t really been saying things, but have implied their disdain for the decision to go to our church. I don´t know how much I believe her about her mom, because she seems much more open than Esmeralda (and she had a vision that had many temple connections!), but finally she was starting to open to us. We extended the invitation that she pray and ask what the Lord wanted, and then to make the decision based on that. She did not want to say the closing prayer, but we told her that it would help her more than our prayer in her behalf. Finally she consented, and she was crying at the end of the prayer. We left her house reminding her to always remember what she was feeling and to make the decision quickly. She is going to be praying all this week...and I hope to be able to help her.

After the appointment my companion got a little annoyed because he said that I was trying to pressure her, and that I got her to cry. It made me think about a lot of the things I was saying...but I know that I was just focused on testifying. I don´t remember how many times I told her "I know that Jesus wants you to get baptized, but don´t believe me, ask him yourself." and then "I know that you felt the spirit in the church, but pray to him for the courage to act on what you felt like you had to do in the baptismal service." I literally cannot remember me trying to push her to was all question based. She was doing most of the talking. My companion had mentioned some bad habits that I had in interrupting people, but this time I was specifically focused on listening and not talking. I tried to explain it to him, but I couldn´t find the right words. I couldn´t explain what was happening without feeling like I was being presumptuous our full of myself. The truth is that I was not pressuring her, the words I was saying would have had absolutely no influence on anyone else or in any different moment. I think his problem isn´t that he doesn´t feel the spirit, but that he doesn´t recognize it. (which is something that we have to learn throughout the mission and our life) I love him so much, and I desperately want him to know what he has to do...but I feel inadequate in teaching him.

Well, I´ve vented quite a bit. I love you all. Don´t think that my companion is not a good missionary. I had the same feelings at the beginning of my mission, and I´m sure I am not the only one...I feel that he is simply one of the few that admits it openly. Please pray for me and for him. Pray for his family, and pray for our investigators, because many are at the point where they can say either yes or no. They know it´s true, and for that I so desperately hope they say yes....because if they say no, it´s going to be a lot harder to say yes in the future.


Elder Blackham.

Weekly Letter: November 22-28, 2011

para mi familia:

Well, another week has just gone by and I have no idea how that has happened. Elder Granados is beginning to adjust well to the mission environment. Sometimes he still seems worried about his family at home, but really gets excited whenever we have success in our area.

Yesterday he was able to perform his first baptism in the was very special for him. We were going to have two baptisms, one was going to get baptized in the second hour of church because she had to leave, and the other one was going to watch the first baptism and then get baptized at 2:00...however, the second one didn´t show up, because she had to go to the doctor at the last second. We still don´t know what´s up, but we´re praying that everything is well with Maria Isabel. When we called Maria Isabel, it became evident that she was not going to get baptized this week My companion started insisting that I baptize Lourdes. We had arranged for that to happen because Lourdes was going to get baptized earlier, and then Maria Isabel afterwards, and so that my companion didn´t stay wet so long between the two baptisms, we agreed that I would baptize Maria Isabel, and he would baptize Lourdes.

I patiently told him that it didn´t matter to me who baptized the person, just that they get baptized. I explained that I wanted him to baptize Lourdes so that he could get a feel for his purpose before going to Argentina on his REAL mission. Also, I reminded him that Lourdes already knew that he was going to baptize her, so he finally agreed to do so. When he left the font, I could see on his face that he was pleased and happy for the decision that Lourdes made, and I think it really made a difference in the way he sees the mission.

Earlier in the week we had talked to this family, the Mata Gutierrez family, which is a really cool family with 3 members that can be baptized. They´re married legally (which is always a plus in Mexico), and they really seemed receptive to the message. However, when we began to speak on the subject of baptism, Aracely, the mom began to put up barriers. Literally, I didn´t understand how she could understand and feel so good about what we were saying and not want to do anything about it. However, we kept working with her so that she could pray to ask the Lord if she should get baptized...she was about to accept the challenge, but then the her mother entered in the house and began to say a whole bunch. She said "You can talk about whatever you want, but baptism NEVER." Technically this shouldn´t have been such a problem because Aracely is 28 years old, living with her husband and kids away from the family of her mom, but obviously, it was not very good timing. She began going backwards even more, not even wanting to commit to go to church when she had loved it that week before. So my companion I guess got spooked and said "Well, if you want we won´t insist about baptism anymore." Those aren´t exactly the words he said, but that´s how he intended it. Ever since then, the family hasn´t been able to progress very much.

I talked to my companion about why he said what he said, and he said that he felt that they were being pressured too much. We talked about it a little, trying to see when he felt that they were being pressured...or rather when we were pressuring them.(because he hadn´t felt that had been pressuring them) We had a good talk afterwards where we both saw something that we could do to improve it. For the meantime, it´s really hard because we´ve become really good friends with that family, but we´ve decided to let them alone for a while. However, after the baptism of Lourdes, my companion seemed completely changed when we talked about baptism with anyone. I think he really felt in the font how much the Lord wants these people to get baptized.

I´ve learned so much from Elder Granados. More than anything, I´ve learned that I don´t have all the answers.(which has been something really difficult to accept throughout my mission). I hope to be able to learn more from him every coming day of this week.

Thanks for the support and prayers in our behalf and in behalf of Elder Granados´s family. Please keep them in your prayers. And keep me in your prayers too, because it seems that the Lord has some changes and some lessons in store for me in the future!


Elder Blackham

Monday, November 28, 2011

Weekly Letter: November 15-21, 2011

Alright, if this letter is missing a few c´s I hope you can decipher the hidden message. The c key is one where you have to hit it several times for it to work.

I got my package. I did get it intact...I think. I got several Butterfingers (which I´ve almost eaten all with a Halloween message that I got on November 15...sigh.) A teryaki beef jerky. Several slim jims....and HUGE box of Cheezit(which I am already half way through with.) I also got my shoes/army boots.(which is cool because half of the military camp is in my area), and two pairs of socks. (The two intact pairs of socks came as a relief to the now four "saintly" pairs I have...but I guess I can´t send any pictures anymore.)

My son is named Elder Granados. He is from Chihuaha, Chihuaha. And he´s feeling a little bit of home sickness. His father passed away about 2 or three years ago... and when he came on his mission he left his mother and thirteen year-old sister alone...and from what he´s telling me, Chihuaha is not the safest place right now. He´s talked about how they used to follow him home to know where he lived...and how some people would threaten him, telling him that they knew where his sister went to school. So he´s more worried about his family than homesick actually.

This week, we committed someone to get baptized yesterday. Her name is Lourdes Sanchez, and she really is golden. She accepted the date and everything, the only thing is that she wasn´t able to get to church for some reason. Her phone has been off the hook for quite a while, so there was very little that we could do. She was going to get to church late, but also had to leave early to go to Puebla. But I think that she took longer than she thought in the morning, and because of that it was impossible to get to church. Since her phone is still not paid, she couldn't tell us, and we couldn't get a hold of her. She should be coming home today in the we´ll see if we can find her.

Also, we were able to find a new family in an area of the ward that we haven´t worked very much. His name is Manuel Santiago and Luz Rios. They looked at us in such a way that I was like...."we have to contact them." They told us that they had seen us several times and wanted to talk to us but later they were never able to talk to us because we were always too far away from them. So we went Friday and we talked to them about baptism and they both accepted. The only thing is that they weren´t able to go to church this week because he got really sick and they had to go to the hospital to get him checked up. He´s had several strokes (I don´t know if that´s exactly the translation, but its "infarto cerebral" in Spanish.), so they wanted to make sure everything was okay.

Also, we´ve been having problems with Esmeralda again, but I think we´re just going to focus more on her mom and see if she follows. She seems to get to the point that she knows this is true, but doesn´t want to commit because of her "Virgin de Guadalupe." Every time she mentions it, we tell her that her issue isn´t about that, rather whether or not God has called a prophet. Yesterday, she told us to come for her at 9 so she could go to the earlier services. But when we got there, she told us that she was very sorry that she was not going to accompany us because her mom was sick...she said that she might be able to go to our services at 11:00 and to pass by for her. We went and nobody was home. We called her and she said that she went with her God-father and would not return until late.

We passed by late, and she finally told us that she loved the going to church, but that she would no longer be going. I think she expected me to get angry at her or something, but when I didn´t say anything, she started asking me to say something. I wasn´t speaking for two reasons: one, my companion needed practice, and two: I´m so bull-headed that I would have gotten into another discussion. But yeah, I don´t know if it made an impression on her, because I think it did bother her that I´m usually the talkative one and the one that´s laughing and everything, but that in that experience I was just silent. I did learn that my companion is much more capable of teaching than I had initially considered. So I guess this week I will be trying to adjust more so he can learn. I feel like he gained confidence in the time he talked to her, so I guess, even if it didn´t help her, that maybe it helped us as a companionship.

Well, time is short I have to go now. Thanks for everything that you´ve done for me. Thank you for your prayers and support. Keep praying for us so that we´ll have more success.


Elder Blackham

Weekly Letter: November 8-14, 2011

Yes, it did come, I´m going to pick it up at the offices tomorrow. I´m pretty excited to see what came. It´s been a long last few weeks. It´s rained a little bit and my shoes are doing their best to hold up, but it´s just not quite enough, you know with holes all in the soles. I´m also excited for the other things that could be coming in the mail. This will be my last package in the mission I bet...(because the Christmas season is always really really slow in the mail.), so I´m pretty excited for it, just as if it were Christmas.

Speaking of Christmas. I will be spending Christmas in the Molinito....and probably until the end of my mission. Elder Riches and I got our changes yesterday, and he´s going to El Oro, Estado de Mexico. It´s part of the Toluca Zone and stake, but if you look on a map, it´s in the middle of nowhere. He was a little bummed because we wanted to spend Christmas together, but I think it will be a good change for him. He loves the outdoors and being here in the city he feels a little claustrophobic. I mean, he´s from Grantsville and now he finds himself in one of the biggest cities in the world. I didn´t think myself to be a real camping kind of guy, but here in the city, I´m about ready for a week of camping just to get away from it all. Oh well, I guess it will have to wait until later...there will be plenty of time for camping and all that.

I have not got a clue of who is going to be coming here with me. I just know that I´m training these last two changes. President called me Saturday in the afternoon, and when he does that the Saturday before changes, it means something is going to happen the next change. He called me and told me that I was going to have a shift of responsibility from being a district leader to a trainer. He explained that he wanted me to focus on training this new missionary, and for such he was going give me that responsibility. I don´t know if he wanted to avoid whatever outburst that I imagine he could have gotten from other missionaries, but I just told him that I would be more than willing to do so. Really, I´d much rather have another son than to be a district leader or a zone leader. So yeah, I will get to meet my kid tomorrow at the offices(so I´ll be balancing my package and the luggage of my new companion in the metro...funnnn!)

But yeah, we had some success this week, but not near to what we should have had. Our baptismal date fell through. We saw her Monday, and then we couldn´t find her until Friday. Then we weren´t able to make plans with her about when she was going to get baptized on Sunday because she was going out of town for Saturday. But she never got that fell through pretty hard. But that´s okay because the rest of her family looks pretty interested too. We have an appointment with them on Wednesday, and hopefully we´ll find Carmen too.

So yeah, I´m excited for this week. Plus, we had a bunch of people go to church. One is Esmeralda who had fallen through hard last week because she didn´t want to leave behind certain traditions of her fathers. However, when we found her this week she apologized several times and said she wanted to go to church on Sunday. She went, and her mom also went, but when she found out that Riches was leaving she almost cried. However, she felt very good in church and several people talked to her about their own experiences before baptism, so that she came out of church completely different. Her mom also liked church and attended another baptism(she´s the one that has had dreams about the temple.) Last night when we visited them we were about to share a message about why the Lord calls us to other places. Esmeralda and her brother were there, but the Mom was outside. We asked if she could call her mom in and she muttered something about how her mom didn´t want to change religion. So we didn´t dig too deep in there, but it seems like she´s thinking about baptism right now. So when we visit her on Wednesday we will be inviting her to be baptized this week.

We also have another family that we are planning to invite to baptism on Tuesday, and another family we are visiting on Wednesday that went to church and that we are going to invite to baptism. In all there could be 8 baptisms between those three families, but we have to have some miracles for that to happen, but that would sure be a great way to welcome a new missionary here.

I love the mission. I hate to think what my life would have been without it. I really feel like who I am, I became in the mission. When we train missionaries, we are put in a 12 week study cycle so that we can more easily show them the ropes. Sometimes the two missionaries are changed from the area after the first transfer, but probably this means that I will be here until the end of my mission. I don´t want to think about it, but I feel like my time is up to my neck. I hate the feeling, especially when I see people from my generation and they remind me how much time we have left. When members ask me how long I have in the mission I have been answering "I´ve got a year and a half in Mexico" which is true. I have...unless my calculations are incorrect 19 and half months here in Mexico. They always say "there isn´t much time left," but at least they don´t try to trunk me out like they did to Childers and Perez. However, my generation is pretty big, I don´t think I´ve ever been in a zone without at least two people from my generation in my zone. It´s an unpleasant reminder of all that I have yet to do, and how little time I have to do it.

Thank you all for your prayers and support. I love you all. Please pray for me. Having a kid when you´re finishing up is likely to revive the dead elder or kill the new-born. I hope it will be a Rogers-Calhoun experience for me. I know these are probably going to be my hardest changes in my mission...but bring it on! Please help me first, and then bring it on!


Elder Blackham

Weekly Letter: November 1-7, 2011

This week was the trial by fire period. We had really good days, and horrible days. Horrible days like with Margarita and with Esmeralda. I will mention each experience separately.

Margarita´s adult daughter, Nancy, got baptized in August. She hadn´t wanted to get baptized until about four weeks ago, when she wanted to get baptized as a surprise for her daughter Nancy. However, she was not able to get baptized that day because she had to go with her brother to resolve some papers for her trip the next week to the Mediterranean. So we had to cancel her surprise baptism until a month later when she would be getting home.

Well, she got home this week, and we went to visit her, and she smelled like smoke. We asked her what she thought about baptism and she told us this: "I´m sorry, I will no longer be baptized." We tried to see where she was having resistance...we tried seeing if it was the smoking habit or something else. But she said that it wasn´t a problem, that she hadn´t smoked at all the whole month on the Mediterranean and had felt fine. We got to the point where we would explain to her that God wanted her to get baptized, but she kept firm and said the following: "I know God wants me to get baptized, and I know that he wants me to be baptized this week, but I will not do it....but I´ll apologize to him later." At that point, it was pretty late and I could see that we were not making progress, so frustrated and distracted we went home.

Then Esmeralda. She was the investigator that had been waiting for us last week to go to church, but never called us so we didn´t go. This week she felt really bad, so she committed to go to the dance activity that Friday, and then go to church on Sunday. She went to the dance on Friday, but then didn´t want to go to church on Sunday, and completely did a dead stop in her progression. We´re stilling trying to figure out what happened, because she said that she had a great time at the dance. She said that she wanted to attend her Catholic church on Sunday. We invited her to go to both meetings, and she was going to do so, but then out of nowhere she asked about images and the virgin of Guadalupe. I told her straight at that moment, that that question was not relevant in that moment. I told her to go to the chapel, she would have some questions and we could answer them more directly (it was Saturday night and we had an important appointment at 8:00 on the other side of the area). That was the worst thing I could have said, because she just stopped and said, that she would no longer go to Church. I guess we may be leaving her after all. On Sunday morning when we stopped by, she reaffirmed that she was not going to go to church, but that we could stop by in the week. Frankly I´m doubting that it would be of much use.

But in the darkest of moments, that´s when miracles occur. We contacted a lady in the street on Wednesday named Carmen, and she stopped everything to talk to us. She wanted us to go to her house that same day so we did our best to get there at 6:00. We got there very late and she had already gone. Her mom answered and told us that she had mentioned specifically that we were going to come by. If we came late, she was to set an appointment for the next day and tell her when the appointment was to be.

There are several times that I have invited someone to baptism in the first appointment, but very few times that we put a date the same appointment. Due to the rules set by the president, we need only two times in the church before baptizing an investigator. So when she accepted baptism we then proceeded to the date for the next Sunday. She accepted it very well...and then we explained that we wanted her to get to know the church before getting baptized, so we invited her to church.

Then on Sunday, we passed by, but she wasn´t there. We were really worried despite the fact that her family said that she left for the church on her own. We got to the church with another family we had invited, and nobody was there...just members. I think my companion and I were both praying that she would show up...and right before the prayer, she shows up with her two young daughters and her ex husband(which actually was never her husband because they never got married legally, but now they are separated.) We were a little concerned they may have been living together, even though she had said that she lived alone with her daughters. The husband said that he had attended church in Tenayo(the stake next to Tlalnepantla), and wanted to start attending again. We verified that they were indeed separated...and living in different places. He does live in our boundaries, but it´s far away enough that it doesn´t cause too much concern. We definitely have to explain the Law of Chastity this week.

So yeah, we´re actually going to head over there pretty soon to reaffirm the baptismal date for this week and set an appointment for an interview. Plus we have several possible people to get baptized this week that have gone to church these last two weeks and have accepted baptism, just not a date...yet. So please pray for us! We´re getting things moving here in the Molinito finally, and we got to keep it moving!


Elder Blackham

Friday, November 4, 2011

Weekly Letter: October 25-31, 2011

para mi familia:

So yeah, sorry about that. I bet you guys freaked out yesterday because I didn´t write. What happened is that the zone leaders had a council meeting with the pres yesterday, so they changed yesterday to be an all work day. Then today, Tuesday, we had our district meeting, and then the rest of the day we have to be able to do the p-day stuff. So that is why I am writing you guys right now. So we went to the Centro of Mexico. It was way cool. We got to see the cathedral of Mexico which is amazing. It´s huge. I had already seen it another time when I was in Tacubaya when it was still in my zone. But this time I really had a bigger appreciation for the architecture and size of it.

They did allow us to take pictures with the flashes turned off, so I did get some pictures of it. You will probably see what I mean by that it is awesome architecturally, but spiritually, one feels...turned off, for lack of a better term. It seems empty when you go into it, even when they´re doing a Mass...actually I felt more of that feeling when the mass started as we left. Call it what you will, that I am unaccustomed to the way they worship, that I´m not used to the images. I have been here longer than a year and a half. Every street corner has Virgin de Guadalupe. I am so used to entering into a house with walls adorned with Saints. I am pretty familiar with the way they worship and everything...and I go to get an appreciation of the architecture of a people that built that place out of their faith in Christ....but I still did not feel comfortable. I do not base my testimony on this, but the only two Christian churches that claim to have the authority of God to do His will here on Earth are our church and the Catholic Church, and judging by the way I felt in that just strengthens my testimony even more of the truthfulness of this church.

But yeah, it was a great experience being there to see a little bit of that. Now, as for these last two weeks, several things have happened that really get my hopes up for this week. These last four weeks we have had NO ONE in Church...that´s right, no one. And I have to admit, I was getting discouraged on my sanctification because it didn´t seem to make a difference. We kept finding people, they looked very good....they said they would go to church, and we go for them, and....nope! They´re either not there, or they´re leaving at that moment, or they tell us straight that they don´t want to hear anything else from´s like ARRGHH! It was more frustrating than anything. In Tlalli, we didn´t have to work too hard to get people to church, they showed up on being invited...but here, the Molinito (what is known in the whole mission as the promised land, where the only risk in the mission is pneumonia from being soaking wet all day and all night in the baptismal font) here we were working harder than I have ever worked to get people in church, and NOBODY WAS GOING TO CHURCH!!!!

I guess I got a hard lesson on humility. I have learned not to compare my success with others, but to use it as a motivation to get things moving where I am at. If it weren´t for all the rumors and legends of all-star Molinito with two sets of missionaries in every ward because one pair isn´t enough to baptize and visit everyone that wants to be baptized... If it weren´t for that and I had gotten here and everything had fallen through time and time again...maybe I would have just given up. But I didn´t. I found that I could be more diligent than I thought. I found that I could be more obedient than I thought, I learned that I could have my "eye single to the glory of God" more than I had did before. And I am so grateful for it.

I love Elder Riches, I wish he would have had a better mission than he has had. I am one of 7 companions he has had on the mission so far, and I am 1 of only 3, that haven´t been sent home early for disobedience. One is Elder Loya that was here before I was, the other one was no other than our Elder Long from the Draper Eastridge Stake. Elder Riches mentioned that he has only baptized one person every change...but I hope that we change that this week. We have one so far, and 3 possibles for this week...we are going to work harder than ever so that we can get them baptized.

I love how much I have learned from Elder Riches. He really is the one that made the work go forward. He taught me of love and humility. I was to the point where if an investigator gave us another appointment and fell through, or if they were going to church and didn´t show up, I was to the point where I said. "Well that didn´t work, let´s look for somebody else." He was the one that said "Wait, let us prune one more time and dung it one more time and maybe we´ll have fruit." I had a hard lesson on Sunday night, when we visited one such family that completely fell through on us the Sunday before to go to church. We went back to what I thought would be the last "seed planting" before putting them in the Area book. However, we get there and they said "Why didn´t you come for us? We were waiting for you guys!" I felt so bad. They had told us that they would call us to let us know if we were to pass by for them or not....but they didn´t call.

However, the mom was able to accompany us for the baptism that the other elders had that night, and we´re hoping that that will make a difference in her progress as an investigator.

Well, I got to go. Love you so much for all you´ve done and everything. One last thing can you track down what happened to the package you sent me, a lot of packages in those dates have already arrived, and mine hasn´t. What was the date that you sent it? Do you have the package number or something for the secretaries to track it down?

Love you lots!

Elder Blackham

Weekly Letter: October 18-24, 2011

para mi familia:

Well, we went to the Zocalo today. We got special permission to do so, but we got back later than we thought, and were not able to write before because we had to wash with a sister that later leaves. I got special permission to write you to tell you guys I´m fine, in a little bit of hurry, but all is well. I´ll print your letter you sent me, and then next week I´ll write about these two weeks.


Elder Blackham

Weekly Letter: October 11-17, 2011

para solo mi familia:

So, as requested by my mission president. I am sending you a calendar that he sent to us at the beginning of the change. In these two changes we are going to be reading the Book of Mormon as a Mission. And he wants you to have the opportunity to do so as well. President Villarreal is really into this unity as a mission thing. That´s why he´s doing all this stuff, and that´s why he´s trying to include you guys too. The DVD he sent, the Book of Mormon reading schedule (notice it is LibEro de Mormón and no Libro de Mormón. I still haven´t found the Libero de Mormón in my missionary resource Library, so I´ll read the Libro de Mormón instead.) I´m truly blessed to be serving under such a visionary man called of God. He has the goal for this month of 400 baptisms. Literally he has scooped the mission from the dumps and apostasy to being the best baptizing mission in Mexico, and usually the world.

The mission in December last year had a whole 98 baptisms in the whole month. And ever since, things have been changing. May we had 5 sundays in the month, and for the first time in mission history we broke the 300 mark with 319. In less than 6 months he´s turned everything around. Another two months later we hit the same 319 mark in July which also was a month with 5 Sundays. Then came last month, september, a regular four week month. We reached 303 baptisms...baptizing 98 on the last week of the month! It is a stark contrast from what we have ever seen before in the mission. So when he speaks of October and baptizing 400...I look at the calendar, and I´m like...."another 5 sunday month" and I say "Let´s do it!"

The President has said that he acclaims our success to the new-found focus on obedience, diligence, and desire. My companion and I are trying really hard to achieve the last two attributes. To do so, we have decided to do a santification challenge. You may have heard of it because it seems to be quite popular in the mission. It includes fasting and while in the attitude of fasting, writing a list of activities or distractions that impede you from being 100% focused in the work. We decided to do so, because we literally have the promised land under our hoz(what´s the English word for that? Scythe?), and we´re not reaping what we should be doing. In Mexico it is quite a challenge because of several distraccions that we see everyday.

One, the busses and combies(little vans that are public transport) always have music playing, and many times you get to here cool songs from artists that you knew before the mission. You later have incomplete families in the church, or inactive families who give you food and they leave the television running with a pirated version of a movie that just came out in Theaters. You have several distractions that will kill the spirit and you in your missionary desires, if you don´t do anything about. Then you have a missionary companion from the same state as you, and of course, it is so easy to get distracted when you´re talking because you relate to much. (If anyone has said that you get along too well with someone, has not gone foreign on a mission where most of your companions come from a completely different culture, and very rarely you find yourself with a companion that is basically what your best friend would have been before the mission.)

So let´s just say that the Santification challenge is really hard....but I´m doing it with the hope the my desires will change. The missionary that first did the "fast" of forty days of such distractions said that at first he had such an ache for those distractions, and there were so many temptations that he could not even bare it. However, every night, applying the repentance process he would ask for more strength to go on. He then later says that about the last week of his "fast" he had found that he no longer had the desire to say those things. So that is my hope, that even though it kills me having plug my ears in the bus and sing a hymn, when really I´d rather listen to it, because I love the song and/or group that sings the son, eventually I´ll get to the point that I will no longer even want to listen to that stuff. I will be even happier than I am now because I will enjoy this fast, and I won´t feel guilty about it afterwards.

Well, I wrote about all that fast, so I hope it makes sense. Anyway, so we started that on Saturday, and so far, we´re working really hard. We fall a lot, but we keep picking ourselves up. I realize that the Lord doesn´t ask for perfection because he expects us to achieve it, he asks it of us expecting us to be repentant; and it is then that he blesses us. I wish I had more of chance to explain about the miracle famiy we found the very Saturday that we starting this Santification Challenge. I also wish I could tell you about Jorge, and how he worked so hard to be able to get baptized yesterday...even putting his job at stake...and being in the military, that´s a pretty big deal. It was such a beautiful miracle...and I know it is only the start if we keep work at this. I´m looking at this week, we don´t have anyone in teaching to get baptized this week. But I´m strangely calm. I know that if I am obedient, diligent, and keep trying to mold my desires to His desires, we will find someone to baptize this week.

Please pray for us. We need the support.

Thank you all. Love you all.


Elder Blackham

Weekly Letter: October 4-10, 2011

This week, it was pretty awesome. Elder Riches and I really got along pretty well. Like seriously, we were laughing so hard sometimes in planning that we got finished planning pretty late. But we figured out how to work efficiently together, so that´s a good thing.

We were able to work with several people this week that were progressing when we got there. And I tried to get Riches motivated to be able to do more contacting as I had learned the week before in Tlalli. He said that he and Elder Loya had done very few contacts and for such hadn´t had much success in the area.

So yeah, we found several investigators this week, some look like they´re going to progress others, don´t look as promising. One such family was the Ortiz Family. When we first talked to them, they were outside working on their electricity. We asked if we could help them out with something, but they declined. We then asked if we could share a short message with them, and they accepted. We entered into their home and taught a lesson about the Atonement and how it can be applied to our lives through baptism.

We sensed early on that they were hesitant about everything, but they accepted it pretty well...and we put another appointment. When we went for the other appointment, something had changed. They no longer wanted to listen to us. They said they didn´t want to be rude, but that they literally had no time left. We asked for just ten minutes to share a message. We shared the restoration and the spirit was very strong, possibly stronger than at any other point in my mission. Only then did they accept that they would pray about whether or not they should be baptized.

We still have to verify that, but we´ll see how it goes this week. They are a great family, and I hope they can recieve the answer and have the courage to do what they are told. So yeah, we are working on several people over there.

I´m sorry for not being able to write very much. I was in a internet cafe and the power went out, so I have to cut things pretty short. Basically, this week, the baptism that we had for fell through because at the last minute she had to go out of town with a brother. And she´s going out of town the next week so she can´t be baptized until after that. However, we do have an investigator that is named Jorge that really wants to get married to be baptized. They are supposed to be getting married this week so that he can get baptized on Saturday, his wife is already a member and is even more excited that he finally wants to be baptized. I really only got to know them once because she went out of town to get her birth certificate and voters license in Puebla so they can get married this week.

Well, I wish I could write more. Yeah, so things are great in Molinito 1. I´ll answer the rest of the questions next week!


Elder Blackham

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Weekly Letter: September 26-October 3, 2011

para mi familia:

I imagine that you were expecting this letter to come late. (I´m sorry, the keyboard doesn´t write the letter C very well, so excuse the typos) Yeah, there were changes, and I got changed to the Molinito....again! You may remember that I was here about 9 months ago, we had just barely divided the ward into two areas. Well, I´m back, but now in the other half of the ward. My new companion´s name is Elder Riches and he is from Grantsville, Utah (yeah, like where we would pass by to go to Lake Tahoe.) It´s kind of an interesting ordeal being two gringos from Utah in Mexico...I had never had that experience before, but now I have two companions in a row that are from Utah, so that´s pretty interesting.

Once again, for General Conference, the president asked us to work in our areas on Saturday, and invite the people to go two sessions on Sunday. I was pretty disappointed, but it seems like they will be sending the Zones disks with the Saturday sessions on them (including Priesthood Session). It was an awesome experience in this week. They had challenged us to do the 140 contacts that Elder Ballard had challenged us to do(or simply they reiterated that same promise.) We hadn´t been doing well with the contacts, but I came to have a testimony that if we do contact at least 10 per day per companion, that the baptisms would increase dramatically. Unfortunately, we fell short of the goal, only doing 118 of the 140 contacts, but we improved drastically the way we worked together, and we began to really notice how we began to notice from the get go who we should teach and whom we should let sprout the seed.

In this last change I have really made great progress in being able to express love for the people...even in the street before knowing them. It´s funny because I was going to say that I learned to express my love for the people. This is probably because I really felt it this week, however I realize that it wasn´t really my love, but His. We as human beings are not able to love everybody on sight. Luckily enough, being a mere Vessel of Charity really is a joyful experience. It is very weird, because you feel a desire for the best of the people, and feel like you have a confidence to talk to them as if you had a long time getting to know them....but it´s really the first time you´ve ever seen them before. It´s amazing the difference it makes in contacting, in teaching, and in doing interviews. The people are much more receptive when you show that you care. Even if they choose to reject the message, you remain feeling like you´ve done your part in planting the seed, and you move on to look for more souls to harvest.

I feel like we were able to plant and nurture several seed this week, which I hope the next week will be harvested. It´s weird speaking of them because they are so far away, and I don´t know how to trace their progress. The first investigator was Luz Chavez, who is a neighbor of ours that is really receptive to the message of the restoration. She was able to read the pamphlet, and understood 3 Nephi 11 to a perfection. My companion and Elder Loya will have to program a baptismal date with her, because her busy work schedule makes it difficult that she can get baptized this week. She was also able to attend the last session of General Conference, and afterwards she looked at us and said..."this was what I was looking for."

Another family, the Caixba Martinez Family was another great tender mercy we found this week. We knocked on their door while looking for a reference which ended up being a bad address. However, the Lord works in mysterious ways, and we were able to find this couple and their young child. Both of them had listened to various religions before, the Jehovah´s Witnesses, the Baptist, Presbyterians, and all of the bunch. They had seen companions of us over by the Metro Rosario, where there is a big Stake Center (it is now my Stake Center in this area), and they wanted to know why we had never been over there. It was really interesting then, that I, after four and half months in that area, and having never before explored that part of the area, decided to take advantage of the spare time to knock doors because nobody was in the street.

The wife, Carmen, opened the door, and immediately invited us to come in and talk to the both of them. We taught them both Lesson one and Lesson Three, but we were not able to commit them to get baptized because they are not legally married. However, they did go to General Conference Sunday morning. My companion Elder Price and I did interchanges with ward missionaries to pass for several investigators. Elder Price tells me that when he got there, the brother was already ready and told them to get in his taxi to go to church.

The last tender mercy we found was a mother and son who have a store in the Center of Tlalnepantla. Her name is Raquel, and he is Cristian. We had a great talk about the restoration, and they both committed to read the pamphlet, we were not able to explain much about or give away a Book of Mormon, but it was a really good lesson. We also invited them to go to Conference. On Sunday another ward missionary and I passed for them at about 10:00, she opened the door and said that she would meet us there, that there was no gas and hadn´t been able to shower nor get ready. She also explained that the son was not going to be able to attend with us.

So I got back to the church, meeting my companion and his temporary companion, and I was not completely sure how things were going to end up from my end. She seemed sincere enough, but a missionary well knows that that doesn´t mean anything really. I did pray that she would show up during the conference. Then at the end, I was approached by a well groomed lady. I recognized her to be Raquel, she thanked us for inviting her, and told us that she had been thoroughly impressed by the spirit of the conference. She then asked "Do you have the book of mormon that it mentions in the pamphlet, and that gentleman mentioned in his talk?" We were obliged to give her one, set an appointment for the next day to talk once again....she thanked us again graciously and asked how much she owed us, we assured her that it was simply a gift that we give to all that are interested in this message.

There is not much time. I know this is the true Church. I know that this work is the Lord´s work. There is no other explanation. Human hands cannot do what we are doing...we are nothing in comparison to the work the Lord will do if we do not impede him by our own actions and worldly desires. I wish I had been working this whole change, this whole mission like I´m doing right now. But I can´t afford to look back to regret... There is no time.


Elder Blackham

Weekly Letter: September 19-25, 2011

For your information: I (Doris) looked up the medication Thomas was given in Mexico. Difenidol is a prescription not commercially available in the US or Canada, but is used for the treatment of vertigo.

The injection they gave me was Difenidol(I´m pretty sure that´s Spanish, but I don´t know). I will have to definitely be careful over here. They call Coke "La Reina"( the Queen) here. I have asked for water several times, and many times they don´t have any potable water, just coke....hmmm, not very convenient. I had already come to the idea that sugar or soda were not helping me a I stopped drinking so much. But then one day in the training meeting for District Leaders I drank some really sweet lemonade....and a lot of it (cuz I miss it a lot.) And then in the afternoon I drank a soda despite a feeling that I shouldn´t. That night I started feeling light-headed again. We got to the house, I crashed and the next day I woke up without a problem. So this week I know your prayers were answered.

Now our week didn´t work out as great as we wanted. Last week they challenged us to do 50 motivational interviews for those close to baptism in the zone. Basically, the District Leader goes with all the possible baptismal candidates, and conducts an interview, and motivates them to make the decision. You could call it the "final push" interview. Well, I had to do several "final push"es, and unfortunately, for the same reason we were not in our area very much. The Viveros area had several interviews, but the Zone leaders did some of them. The others we tried to do during exchanges, but sometimes they couldn´t. Then the sisters,´s not like I can do exchanges with them. There was a district leader that once in the training meeting said that he received revelation, in that he could do exchanges with the sisters in his district. He´s become infamous for the same thing (the president had the look on his face that was like "I can´t believe you just said that.")

However, despite everything, we thought we were going to be able to have a baptism this week. We had obtained special permission that he could get baptized this week, because he doesn´t have enough times in church. So we put a baptismal date for yesterday after the church services. Everything was good up until Friday. He was really excited to be baptized this week, but then Saturday, the family called again to tell him to go to the hospital to watch over his grandmother. We had an appointment that afternoon, but we had to do some interviews with the sisters (and since we were over there and had no way to contact them....well, it didn´t work out). We got home late that night from the interviews, and then when we called all the appointments the next day to apologize, we about died when we found out that Edgar was not going to get home until later that night.

Oh well, we´ve talked to him, and we are not going to make the same mistake again this week. It was great to do so many interviews, and we were able to get 7 baptisms this week, however, we´ve got to see how we can do that and take care of our area at the same time. I think I´m going to need another transfer as a district leader, because I feel like I´m just barely getting the hang of how to work as a district leader.

So please pray for us. I love everyone of you. Changes are next week, and we´ve got to find a whole bunch of news or else if they clear out the area, they won´t have anybody there to teach. We´ve got to work hard to get a lot of fruits ready for the next week. Luckily, it is also the same week as General Conference, which is always great to get people animated to go. I mean, you just have to say "Hey, come see a prophet!" Well...maybe not, but still. I always love to watch General Conference, and I can´t believe that this will be the last time I will have the chance to watch it as a fulltime, I don´t like the way that looks writing it. It´s

Love you all. Keep praying for us.


Elder Blackham

Weekly Letter: September 12-18, 2011

Sorry, that I was not able to write you a lot last week. I´m glad you enjoyed getting my letter, and I imagine that it´s not as big as a surprise that you´ll be getting my letter today. President Villarreal started in July...or June I´m not sure, from the last year. And it being the Bicentenario, he didn´t like what he saw about some behaviors of the Elders. He asked the area authorities what he could do to avoid trouble. He decided to have an activity on the fifteenth in the night, and then P-day the sixteenth. We wrote on the fifteenth before the activity because all the cibers close on the 16th.

It didn´t turn out too effective because we still had to wash our clothes earlier in the week, so Friday was kind of like ....well, let´s get to work early day. It´s interesting how you mentioned about working through the pain, Dad, because both my companion and I had less than gratifying experiences this week as to health is concerned....everything is good now, but we really had to fight to get to work.

I had a vertigo attack on Tuesday. I didn´t write about it last week, because I didn´t have time, and I didn´t want Mom to worry too much. I´m fine, I haven´t had a complication since. I just got up Tuesday, felt a little light headed, and then in the shower things started shaking....and it wasn´t an earthquake :) I quickly washed up, and then ran to my bed, got half way dressed, and the whole room began to spin. I lay down and it began to accelerate. I screamed to my companion that he could give me a bucket, and he did so. It was only then that I was able to breathe deeply, and looking downward, things began to settle down. I had enough energy to wait for my companion to come out of the shower, call the assistants, Sister Villarreal, and then Mission Doctor. They all gave me directions to rest...and I did so. I crashed!

Then I was injected so that the symptoms wouldn´t come back....not a pleasant experience. And then they told me not to leave the whole day. With a little bit of nagging, the assistants gave me permission to leave at 6:00, contact around my apartment, and then to call them to see if I could go to an important appointment at 8:00. I left, felt fine. Went to the appointment, returned, and haven´t had problems since.....but then my companion had a cold that I caught and we were both pretty miserable this entire week.

Dilan´s family was baptized four years ago. He was six. But then they had to move because the father had health problems and everyone moved to the house of his family. They couldn´t find the church there, so they became inactive. The father died, and the mom was really bitter about it. They returned to live where they had lived before....Tlalli. Amalia...the mom was just getting the courage to go back to church, and we knocked the door.

To make a long story short, several miracles occurred so that he could be baptized that Sunday....or yesterday. It was great because that day that I felt so helpless in bed, I was praying that we could find someone. We didn´t have anyone with a date for that Sunday....but we had the faith that we could baptize every week, because that is what the Lord had inspired his leaders to say in this mission....and we were able to do so!

This week looks pretty good. We´re looking to baptize Edgar this Sunday, but the other family, the Lord will have to work some more miracles so they can be baptized as planned.

Please pray for me. I love you all so much.


Elder Blackham

Weekly Letter: September 5-11, 2011

para todos uds:

Well, this is kind of a weird situation. Today is the independence day for Mexico, so we had our preparation day changed to today instead of Monday. Unfortunately, I don´t remember everything that happened last week, but lets take a ride! I guess if I don´t get everything about this week, I'm still going to be able to tell you guys on Monday which is a normal preparation day so I guess it's cool.

So last week, we worked on finding, finding, and more finding. And inviting everyone to the chapel and the ward activity. First of all, we did pretty well, working with the area book, we were able to find some decent new investigators, and were finally able to contact a family that had told us that we could talk to them, but we had never been able to find them at a good time. The first lesson we had with them was a great lesson, they understood why prophets were important and how it would help their family. I think they might have marriage problems, but are sticking together for the kids. However, the next appointment fell through, but the mom said she would go to the church activity, but then got sick before. Then, we tried to contact her on Sunday, but we weren´t able to find her. To make a short story longer, we have been trying to find her, but right now work is really taking away all the time she has.

The other family seemed pretty cool too, they were old investigators, that the elders had left because they wouldn´t progress. However, it´s been a year, and we were hoping to get them to progress this time, but it appears to be the same old. So to make a long story short, our news last week haven´t shaped up too well. However, everything was awesome when Danae was finally able to be baptized. It was awesome because Eduardo, her husband was able to baptize her. I think this is the first time that I´ve seen someone that I had personally baptized baptize someone else. (You remember about the really big guy, right? Well, now he has the priesthood.) So it was a really neat experience.

This week, we were'{t sure who we were going to baptize. There were several investigators in the activity, and they all had a good time there. We thought of Josefina for this week, but due to complications in the schedules, we were not able to see each other until just today. She still hasn´t prayed, but I think we´re on the verge of something with her. She looks more and more open every time we see her.

Well, time is up. I was so busy trying to organize my thoughts in my head, of what happened this week, and what happened last week, that I ran out of time. I'll write in a few days though, about everything else that happened. Thanks for your prayers. please pray for us.


Elder Blackham

Weekly Letter: August 29-September 4, 2011

para todos uds:

The Lord knows us. Time and time again I become convinced of that more and more. I will be honest with you guys. Several missionaries, like they tend to do, have said several things about Elder Price....that he`s hard to get along with and all that. The advantage I have is that I just got done with two changes with a missionary that was so opposite from me that I spent much of the time looking inward as to how to best get along with him so the spirit can be with us.

I cannot say that I learned to be humble, but I at least learned to recognize when I´m being prideful which is the first challenge. So in this change I was expecting things to be a little bit harder than they have been. That isn`t to say that things have just been sunny and blue. We had a pretty hard week to tell the truth. Lessons and new investigators simply didn`t come. We had the lowest amount of both this week, than we have had in several weeks. However, we`re going to have to work some serious changes in the way we work here, because something isn`t working.

I think it has to do with contacts. In my interview with the President a few weeks ago, he mentioned that he was very impressed with my contacts....he said, "126 contacts, that`s pretty good, taking in account the weekly goal is 140." I was pretty astounded, and looked at the paper to see where they had made a typo, because I didn`t remember doing so many contacts! Then I realized what he was saying. The 126 contacts were not a total for one week, but the 8 weeks in which I had been in Tlalli. I was kind of embarrassed...and we`ve been working harder on doing it. But sometimes I just feel like I´m way too stressed out about getting on time to all of the appointments that I don`t realize that I´m passing a whole bunch of people that could be interested in our message.

However, we have been able to have some success in baptism. Jorge, the son of Lluvia, was able to get baptized yesterday, and it was really great, because I think it served as a way to animate his mother and his step-father to get married so that Lluvia can also get baptized.

Danae, the wife of Eduardo is pretty excited. She had a wonderful experience in the church the week of her husband`s confirmation (last week), and she set herself to be baptized next Sunday. Eduardo got the priesthood yesterday, so he´ll be able to baptize her.........SWEET! That family, and the Guadarrama Family has gotten the ward completely excited about the work here. The bishop is particularly pleased. I can honestly say that I have never been in such a helping ward as far as missionary work goes. I know that we can attribute the success that we´ve had primarily to the same. In three and half months we´ve had more than 20 baptisms....and the majority have stayed active and are really excited about the church. The Guadarrama family is giving us a few references, also the family Judith and Eduardo are trying to get their family to investigate the church.

However, we have had problems being able to find and keep new investigators. The President has told us to do a filter the first contact or visit that we make with a person. If we don´t see them as golden, he has told us not to focus on making them that way. "Find the chosen," he has said. That echos really strongly when we realize that the President of Area of Mexico has said that this country is ready to baptize every week. So we got to baptize every week, but with pure golden investigators....what a great time to be a missionary in Mexico!

Well, time is short. I wish I could tell more about how it went this week, but I´ll have to wait til next week. Thanks for the prayers and support, please keep us in your prayers!


Elder Blackham

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Weekly Letter: August 22-28, 2011

para todos uds:

This week was a great...but challenging week. Elder Price and I are getting along with each other very well. We can relate to each other pretty well. He is about to complete a year mark this Thursday, which is way crazy because I remember when he was "born" in Toluca, when I was in Centro. I realized that in this Change I will complete a year since I was in Centro in Toluca. It might sound random, but it´s really hitting me. Right now I can say that a year ago I was in Plateros, my first area. So I don´t feel like I´ve been out so long, however, thinking about how I went to Toluca a year ago.....that´s just incredible.

I´m working hard with my companion right now to get his confidence up. He´s really learned a lot since he was in La Crespa in Toluca. However, his last area in Santa Monica was not a great experience for him. He didn´t get along very well with his first companion. However, when another District Leader arrived in his place and became his companion, he began to wish that his first companion was there. The companion that was with him before didn´t work very well...and he was getting pretty discouraged with that companion. So right now he is taking everything really slow. Actually, one time we were teaching the plan of Salvation and he told me he couldn´t teach a principle that I left for him to teach. I just whispered really quickly that he could do it in Toluca, so that he better do it now...and then I shut up(a not-so-popular tactic to use on non confident missionaries. He was good about it, and then began to teach the principle, and did quite well.

But yeah, we were able to get many new investigators this week. One of the highlights was a lesson we had with Inés and her family. We had invited her to invite others to also be there to listen to us. We were able to talk with her family, another family that lives next door and has a store really close by too. We were able to talk pretty well with them. I don´t know how well they´ll progress, because they´re pretty active in their church. But they accepted everything we were teaching them, and we have an appointment with them this week to talk more. The mother went to church yesterday, and she liked it. However, her kids couldn´t do so because they had commitments in their church...but that´s okay. We´ll see what they say this week.

And that brings us to Sunday. We got there Sunday and we were surprised to see that Lluvia had gotten there before everybody else. Lluvia is the wife(but not married) to a less active member, who has wanted to get baptized since I first knew her. But they haven´t gotten married yet. However, we hope to be able to animate them to do it quickly, because it´s been a long time. However, that´s not the best thing. She arrived with her 9-year-old son Jorge, who had been going with his father(not her husband, but another relationship she had) and going to Catholic Mass. He went to see if he would like to be baptized in the church. We talked a little with him, and we mentioned that there was a baptism that same day at the end of the service. He decided to attend.

So yeah, we were able to baptize Sofia who had a baptismal date since last week. And it was really a great experience. So I was pretty excited that Jorge was able to be there. So we´re thinking of him as another potential baptism for this week, which may inspire some action on the part of his mom and his step-father. So yeah. I have to go right now. We have to help Sofia move from where she was living(behind the Church) to another street about four blocks away (not so close, but still close to the church.) Thanks for everything!

Please pray for me and my companion in this area. There is a lot of success waiting for us!


Elder Blackham

Weekly Letter: August 15-21, 2011

para todos uds:

I will now talk about about this week.

Tuesday we had interviews with the President. It was a great experience, because I was able to give him a great report about the progress my companion has made in the three months we´ve been together. I am truly thankful to be serving under such an inspired man. I wish I knew how he does it, but I don´t, but somehow he can animate a whole room of missionaries to do things that they wouldn´t normally do, but at the same time, do the same thing with a single missionary one on one. I really feel that I have so much to learn from him, especially in my responsibilities with other missionaries and their investigators. I definitely recognize it as the spirit. So I am going to try to do what the Anti-Nephi-Lehis did, and bury old weapons of rebellion, that would otherwise inhibit my receptiveness to the spirit.

We were lucky to have our interviews as one of the first ones, so then we went directly from there to our house, where the Sister Villarreal inspected our house (which was clean!), but she told us to look for another house because she didn´t like the quality of it. So then it was to work. It was pretty awesome day because several things worked out very well. We had our food appointment with Judith....a recent convert, and we talked pretty well with her son Eduardo, who had just been laid off from his job. However, we set an appointment to go on Thursday to talk to him...because we had to hurry and go to another appointment afterward.....which fell through...but oh well.

We then went to the church because we had an appointment with Margarita and her kids (two of which were baptized the last week, and one that had just turned eight). We talked first off about the confirmation, and then Dana (the 8-year-old) asked if she could be baptized that Sunday....obviously we obliged. (Both of her parents are non members, but her mom is really interested in getting´s just that she isn´t married with the father of her children and they live together.) So then we set another appointment to fill out the baptismal form, and have the interview with the Zone Leaders.

Then, we went to another appointment with Sofia, which was such a powerful lesson. She was opening up more and more. If it weren´t for the fact that we had to move to another appointment afterward, we would have invited her to be baptized right then and there. (As it was, we did finish the Plan of Salvation on Friday and invited her to be baptized next Sunday...and she accepted!) And those were the three people we focused in this week. We found several new investigators, but really, we have to work with all of them so that they can progress well.

That then brings us to Thursday, when we had the appointment with Margarita and her kids in the church (her house is really small and it´s hard to teach her there, so we´ve been meeting with her in the church lately. Dana passed her interview, we filled out the forms, and ¡vámonos! We had to run to our appointment with Eduardo. We still ended up getting there late, but they were waiting for us. We were able to share a message about the Atonement, and then we invited all present to be baptized. Danae(Eduardo´s wife) didn´t accept because she felt that his losing his job was maybe a sign that she shouldn´t join the church (he had acquired that job with help from the church´s job search), Hadassa(Eduardo´s niece) did accept, but said she wanted to wait, but didn´t say why (she had already told my companion and I that her dad is against her going to and baptizing in the church). So then we got to Eduardo, who said "I´m ready. I know that there are a lot commandments that I need to complete, but I feel I´m ready for my baptism."

Luckily Elder Lindstrom was still with me in interchanges of companions, and as a Zone Leader, he could interview him right then. So, he passed the interview and we put the date to be baptized on Sunday. The only thing is that he is an offensive lineman in an American football team....that is, HE IS A REALLY BIG GUY.....and he wanted me to baptize him. So I repented and started to exercise daily in the morning like I should do everyday anyway....but even doing fifty push-ups a day for three days was not quite enough. I had to re-baptize him four times.....but it´s a small miracle that I actually got him out of the water four times. But yeah, he finally got submerged completely the fourth yeah, I baptized like a 300 pound guy yesterday....! Yeah!

And that pretty much brings us to the now....which are the changes. My companion Elder Garcia went to an area that´s called Valle Ceylan, which is part of the same stake but a different zone in the mission (they divided the Tlalnepantla stake between Lomas Verdes and Tenayo), so it´ll be interesting, but I guess I´ll still see him in General Conference. I also received Elder Price here in my area. He is from Laverkin, Utah (really close to Hurricane), and we have already met and we know ourselves pretty well....I was his District Leader in Toluca when he was in the La Crespa. So I´m pretty excited about this week. So we´re going to work hard to get two or three baptisms this week to start the change rolling. So please pray for us!


Elder Blackham

Weekly Letter: August 8-14, 2011

para todos uds:

I´m going to have to apologize. I have like no time to write anything. We still have to eat quickly....and then go to an appointment....all of that before 7:00, when the sister closes her laundromat. The president has made new rules(or maybe they`re not so new) due to the increasing problems with the houses being left messy after we had some major cleaning to do in the morning....and that took away a lot of time....but lesson learned, we`re going to clean everyday our apartment.

Anyway, this week went better than the last...however, we aren`t having as much success as we would like. The two kids did get baptized yesterday. I think it helped a lot that they went to the visitors` center near the temple the day before. They were way excited. The mom, Margarita also wants to get baptized...but the husband isn`t sure if he wants to get married with her....and his mother definitely doesn`t want him to get married to her....sigh.

However, it looks like her third oldest kid is going to turn 8 this week and wants to get baptized too....and because she would get baptized before any of her parents we also have to take charge in organizing the interview for her...and all the stuff. I just hope that the Dad is still okay. They mentioned four or five times that they were going to get baptized that week...and he didn`t say anything. Then we found him in the street twice and talked to him about it and he didn`t say anything either. So we had his passive consent...but then I think his mother who is really Catholic is starting to get involved and that`s not good.

Well...time is up. Please pray for us so we can have more miracles!


Elder Blackham

Weekly Letter: August 1-7, 2011

para todos uds:

Without mentioning the ever-passing time, I will start to tell you about this week. There cannot be anything more that I can say that is not already said.

So this week was a challenging one for us. In my district the Elders in Viveros have had some troubles for three or four weeks in getting the success they wanted. Last week, they had the hardest week ever, and I made them the promise that the next week would be full of miracles...but I never thought that in the week I would be receiving similar comments from the Zone Leaders. In the whole week we had 1 new investigator...yeah, that would be O-N-E---one. And that is simply because she didn`t slam the door in our face and accepted that we could go back. She is really closed minded and doesn`t keep her commitments, so really we didn`t have any real new investigators. This week we tried hard to work with the members to give us member did give us a really good reference...and he was a gringo! But then we found out that he was only here for vacations. We left him with an English and Spanish copy of the pamphlets for the first three lessons so that he could also look up the church we he gets back home in Wisconsin.

The other members mention people that they want us to teach, but they don´t know their address or anything. We keep reminding them, but to little avail. Sigh. Then, we invited 6 people to be baptized this week.......but only two accepted.....and then didn`t go to church so they didn`t get baptized. Sigh. The other four are members of a family that looked golden up until halfway through last week. My companion went there on exchanges and tried to invite them to be baptized, but they didn`t accept. And then when I went there on Friday to do the same, they looked like lions trying to attack us. I´ve never seen people get so worked up about baptism. No matter how many times I tried to explain we invite people to get baptized, they kept trying to give counterattacks, which is really frustrating because we weren`t even attacking in the first place. We ended up promising them that if they really wanted to know if this was the correct decision for them, that they would pray everyday and every night until Sunday(when we were going to go over there to go to church together), and that in the church they were going to feel the answer for certain. But when we went on Sunday at the hour that they told us to, nobody answered. We passed by later that day, and saw at least two members of that family, but then they hid from us and sent another person to tell us that nobody was home.

And then in church, Jose Luis got there without any sleep, and, being the first time at church, and being fast and testimony meeting, he was angry at the end. He kept saying, "These aren`t testimonies! This isn`t the love of Christ that I know!" I guess he was expecting what he had seen in very many churches where he has gone. We tried explaining everything afterward, and I think he was beginning to understand a little bit. But right now we`re going to see how it goes in our appointment with him at 6:00.

And then our golden investigator Lluvia was going to finally get married to her less-active member husband/boyfriend, so that she could finally be baptized. The husband got cold feet, and decided they would in a month. We offered to help economically if that was his concern....which it ended up being. But he being the head of the family, was not prepared to accept money to help get married. That is too bad because there is a member that marries people here pretty easily and just for 500 pesos (less than 50 U.S. dollars), however, they didn`t accept the offer.

Oh well....but I have faith that this week will be the week of miracles that we have hoped for. But we have to keep up the excitement because I´ve always said that discouragement is Satan´s first weapon, and it´s true, so we´ve got to work hard to not fall in that trap.

I love you all. Please, pray for us. We need help in this work!


Elder Blackham

July 25-31, 2011

para todos uds:

Well, it´s another week in the mission. Another week has gone, but now is another chance to start again. I doubt I´ve said sufficiently how much I love the mission. I have often at night started to think a lot about the people we´re teaching, and sometimes it´s so stressing that I can´t sleep...and then I think to myself "Isn´t this mission thing so great?" I think there are few times in the life of someone that what they most worry about are other people´s choices, other people´s answers to prayers, and other people´s experiences. I love it! Whenever I get tempted to be discouraged, I remember that.

This week was such a week. We have been working so hard these last few weeks to find new investigators...however, without any success. The last two weeks, it wasn´t so hard because we still had a baptizing pool. (or rather, a bunch of people that could be baptized.) But this week, everybody EVERYBODY was out of town.....or baptized :) so we didn´t have as much work as we had had in past we really got down working hard with the area book and ward to find more people to teach....and NOPE! We had four new investigators this week, and none of them went to church this week....sigh.

We did, however, have a miracle with Lucio. He was not able to be baptized last week, because he still hadn´t left the habit of smoking. However, we visited him everyday at the same time to see how he was doing, and shared a small message. It really encouraged him. When we saw him Friday we already were programed and ready for the baptism on Sunday....but when we didn´t see him Saturday(our appointment fell through) and then neither he nor his family showed on Sunday at church....we were a little worried that he had fallen again.

However, he arrived with his family at 6:00 ready to be baptized. José Luis Alvarado, a blind member of the ward baptized him. I had foreseen several problems that could have happened. Jose Luis had to repeat the ordinance like three times, but finally he got him submerged the third time. Actually Lucio got down on his knees and basically lied down on the font floor the last time to submerge himself. When finally he was baptized and the two of them went to get changed, Inés, his wife (who got baptized with their two sons three weeks earlier) told me that Lucio was hydrophobic. I am continually astonished by the faith and desires of this people!

So yeah, that was a great way to end the week. We didn´t have the success that we wanted in all the Goals of Excellence...however we did have a Baptismal service, and have another one planned for this Sunday. So at least we´re doing okay with the goal to baptize every week.

Please pray for us so that we can have even more success here! Thanks for everything!


Elder Blackham

July 18-24, 2011

para todos uds:

Another week in Mexico....isn´t that so weird? I think it just has gotten normal to be here. There are few times that it really hits me that I haven´t always been a missionary in Mexico, and that this is pretty cool! I´m reminded of the talk of President Uchtdorf in Priesthood Meeting this last Conference when he talks about some pilots that always were so excited to fly even though they did it everyday. I remember how I always looked into some distant future in which I could have a badge on my chest with my family´s and Lord´s name, walking around, preaching the gospel...maybe in another language...knocking doors, and just being a missionary.

How cruel that putting on the badge has become a daily habit like combing my hair(then again, I never did comb my hair much before the mission, did I?). I love moments in my mission when I really realize that what we´re doing isn´t normal....that it isn´t a tedious thing we do every day, but a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I´m living right now. It´s a solemn thought that there are thousands or maybe millions of youth that waiting to do exactly what I´m doing, and millions of returned missionaries who do anything to go back and do what I´m doing right now, and many other people that don´t fall on those lists who join in prayers for the missionaries like me in all the world everyday. I feel horrible when I realize that this has come to be something normal for me. So I am so grateful that the Lord is so merciful to give that Elder Blackham a chance to scope out his surroundings again and realize the magnitude of it.

Such an experience happened on Thursday during the Zone Conference we had. I remember how one of the assistants began to weep, when he told the struggles he was having with his humility. I doubt that it came as a surprise to anyone present that that was something that he needed to work on. Everyone in the mission knows him, they know he´s a good teacher, and they also know that he knows that he´s a good teacher. However, seeing him talk about it, it surprised me that such an Elder with the success he has had in his mission, could allow himself to penetrate his soul and accept that he needed to work on something.

This is something that hit me hard...because I have the same problem that he has...the only thing is that not everyone knows that I have this problem. I think a lot of my companions have come to know, and have tried hit me hard in the head to get it through to me....but it wasn´t until I pondered on everything I heard in that conference that I was able to accept....I´m working on the second step of the repentance process...stop doing it...and it´s hard. It´s so ingrained into who I am, what I´m like, that trying to remove it is like a major surgical operation. I´ve always worried about my image, how people see me...but what a difference the focus makes in the life of somebody. There´s a difference in doing things so that people see you like a good missionary, and when somebody does the same things to become that good missionary. The difference in simply doing and becoming is astonishing. It may not have a great change of outward motions and actions, but what a change of heart!

There are several things I want to change...but it is going to be so hard. However, I cannot overlook it anymore. I´m sorry that I was not able to tell you more about my week, but we can see a parable in this, can´t we? If I cannot change these things, I will not be able to recieve the information that God wants me to recieve for the investigators, for my companion, for the companionships in my district, or whatever....a good shovel doesn´t have to be taken into a shop every day to see why it isn´t digging correctly. To be a good instrument in the hands of the Lord, I have to get these actions and thoughts out of me to be able make use of my efforts in His work.

I love you all...especially my family for there prayers and support. Help me out in this okay? We need some help in this area and with these people. But yeah, I guess I better forget myself and get to work, but not work so that I can look good, but to work to feel good about what I´ve become.


Elder Blackham

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Weekly Letter: June 28-July 4, 2011

Well, yeah, the last letter was very short, and I´m afraid this one won´t be much longer. But I´d better start writing about this week´s experiences.

So of the 7 miracles we were praying for this week, 6 of them were baptized this week. One was not able to go to church this week, but she already has decided to put her date for the next week. So thank so much for your prayers. They were answered.

This week of miracles all began with the interviews we had with Inés and her family on sunday night. She had forgotten her cell phone in the house, so she was worried when we took longer than we thought. Her husband was calling her the whole night to see where she was and everything, but she didn´t have the phone...and he doesn´t have a cell phone so they couldn´t call him.

We were a little worried how the husband was going to react about all that, but when we went over there on Tuesday, Inés told us that she tried to send a message to us that same night but wouldn´t send. She said that when she got there her husband was waiting for them and obviously asked where why they had taken so long. She told him that it was because all of them were getting baptized that Sunday. He answered "ALL of them?" She told him to ask her oldest son...who responded that they were ALL getting baptized.

He was a little surprised by this, and then, to the surprise of Inés, he asked "and could I get baptized with you guys?" She thought he was joking, but he said it was serious. When she told us this, we were shocked and decided to talk to him quickly before he lost the flame.

He never lost it. He was possibly one of the most golden investigators we´ve had. The second time we saw him, he understood completely what we had taught him the first time. The only problem that he has are some addictions to cigarrette and coffee....but he´s made some excellent progress this week...and made it to Church both for the worship and baptismal services! And he liked it! Wow! So that was a miracle that blew us away.

Another one was the Inés´s nephew, who lives like three doors away from their store. He´s never been interested in religion or anything, but one time Inés got to her store and her nephew was reading the Book of Mormon, and he was really enthusiastic about it...and asked her if she could ask us for another copy....and we obliged. So I think we´ve been blessed greatly in finding families that are accepting the church. The Family from Chiapas also got baptized, and the mom went to the baptismal service. Everybody in the family is starting to show more and more interest in what we have to say, so it´s pretty awesome.

The only bummer point was when we invited an inactive member to be baptized. He hadn´t told us that he was baptized, only that he had gone to church once. So we taught a great lesson with him, he looked golden, until when we invited him to be baptized he said "Umm...I´d like to, but I think I already did it." we asked for his full name and his birthdate, and then we checked that night in the system and, sure enough, he was baptized and confirmed....oops!

So yeah, I guess we´ll have to find some more people for this week. We have put 2 people with a baptismal date, but we´ll see if we can get a few well as find a bunch of new people, because if we don´t...I don´t know how things will go this change!

Oh, speaking about changes, there weren´t any between us. Elder Garcia and I are going to be in Tlalli for another 6 weeks. We were the only companionship that didn´t get changed in the Zone. So yeah, we´re pretty excited about another change here!

Well, that´s about everything. Thanks for all the support and prayers!


Elder Blackham