Monday, March 28, 2011

Weekly Letter: March 22-28, 2011

para todos uds:

Well, this week went a little bit better. We actually experienced a miracle this week, not one that we were expecting, but it was a miracle nonetheless. First of all, this week, we as a Zone made a goal to baptize 20 this week. We all arranged for the baptismal service to be the same day at the same time, and invited the president to speak at it. We had the goal of baptizing one person, because nobody else had gone to church before, except a friend of a recent convert that went to the baptism and confirmation of her friend, but didn´t go after that. When we talked about the baptism with this recent convert, she was also there and commented about how she, too had been baptized recently in a Protestant church.

We set another appointment with her in this occasion to explain the Restoration, but she couldn´t come because she had to stay late at her work which was really far away. For the last few weeks, we haven´t been able to talk with her, because she´s always had to be in another place whenever we talked to her friend Amalia. I was thinking that she wasn´t really interested until this Tuesday when we talked with Amalia when she fed us in her house. The other baptism that we had talked about having had already fallen through, so we were a little discouraged. That all changed when Amalia told us that Socorro(her friend) had asked her if she could be baptized again, but in our church...or if not at least be confirmed in our church(because she had never been confirmed in the other church). Well....we weren´t about to say no.

We set another appointment with her, but again she couldn´t come. But over the phone we told her that she could get baptized again....and that she could do so this week. She accepted (I think this is the first and only time I´ve committed someone to get baptized over the phone). We weren´t able to talk with her again until Sunday. We quickly explained the Restoration, and how the power to baptize was restored through Joseph Smith. She accepted it, was interviewed that same day, and was baptized that same day. It was really powerful because the President also commented upon his own conversion. It was powerful experience, and she really enjoyed it.

I´m so grateful for miracles. I know they exist because I keep seeing them day after day. I will always know that the Lord blesses us in our goals of righteousness, if we do all our part.

I wish I had more time. I think the next week I will have to talk about the other powerful spiritual experience we had this week, and about the experience Amalia had in Temple Square on Saturday. But I think it´s enough to say that we certainly are being helped by angels here in Mexico!

Keep praying for us out here! We want to keep seeing these miracles!


Elder Blackham

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Weekly Letter: March 15-21, 2011

para todos uds:

Another week in the change, I can´t believe we are about to start the third week in the change! I won´t even try to mention how weird it´s been seeing the time pass by so fast. I´ve already tried in several letters to say it, and I feel that it would be just a waste of time to try again right now. I would just like to say, Can anyone tell me what happened with March?! Because I would like to know. This is the last full week of March, and then it´s General conference in the following weekend.....ummm wow, my second-to-last General Conference in the mission, and I feel like I just saw it a few weeks ago in October!

Anyway, I´ve already gotten carried away talking about stuff that doesn´t matter. Or maybe it does, because it gives me more energy to work even harder. Here in Independencia, we are finally starting to fill in our schedule with investigators. We actually found a really interested investigator who´s from Argentina, and had gone to church for a year over there...but was never baptized. I think her problem is smoking. We found her smoking when we passed by for an appointment. She tried to hide it when we went by and asked if we could come back in 10 minutes. But it´s okay, she accepted really well our answers to her questions about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. So that´s why I think that her resistance is smoking.

My companion is good to keep me animated about the work. Whenever I´m discouraged, I look to him and try to encourage him, which is really easy. Then when he gets encouraged, I automatically get encouraged too. So in that way we keep working well together. We are trying to do everything to be 100% obedient like the President has been stressing lately. I just hope that we will begin to see more fruits of our labors. The people here accept us really easily, but the problem is they then don´t go to church, and the work cannot keep going if that happens. However, it really encourages me to see Amalia every week since her baptism, and the Piña Family every week since theirs.

Actually, about the Piña family, we have been able to see a real change since they got baptized. Yesterday, Brother Piña volunteered to pray in front of all the brothers in Priesthood. This same man had had problems with saying a prayer out loud with the first missionaries that taught him. He also wore a white shirt and tie for the first time this week, and is going to receive the Aaronic Priesthood next week. They have also been blessed with understanding that we as missionaries could never have been able to teach. They are not only learning, but they are beginning to internalize the gospel....surely the Gift of the Holy Ghost has a great influence in the lives of the people who receive it.

Also, I am really surprised at the growth that we have witnessed with Enrique, the recent convert of Sanders and Perez. He was able to bless the sacrament today, and though he was really nervous, he didn´t mess up. He already has a calling in the ward here, and he likes it because he feels included in the ward. He also has given us a reference of his brother, whose interest was piqued when Enrique got baptized. We have an appointment with them tomorrow.

So it´s really a great position where I´m in, seeing a whole bunch of new investigators accept us in their homes, and a whole bunch of new members making their place in the ward family in Independencia.

Well, I think that´s about it with the news for this week. Please pray for us this week, we are going to focus in a family whose daughter has already mentioned the desire to be baptized. We have to work a small miracle for that to happen this week, however, it´s possible. We just need some help from above.

Thanks for everything


Elder Blackham

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Weekly Letter: March 8-14, 2011

para todos uds:

Another first week of a change. I really enjoyed it. We worked really hard this week, unfortunately, we were not able to have as many fruits this week as the last week. Right now we have to refill the tank. The last few weeks with Elder Perez, we really focused ourselves in sending him out with that little miracle. So we baptized the majority of our really good investigators, but we have already begun to find people here that can be good investigators. However, I think we are going to work hard to have a more balanced focus this week.

Some of my other companions have said that they didn´t come here to knock on doors or contact people in the street, they came to baptize. As such, we always worked by referrals from members. I have gained a testimony of the effectiveness of this way of working, but I also have a testimony that if the members do not feel that we are working, they are not going to give us referrals. This week, we worked a little bit too much on our own, and it wasn't effective. We did not have many fruits, and with new responsibilities that I now have, I realize that I can´t simply work hard, but effectively to have fruits.

I´m the first companion of Elder Rosales, and he came to work. I´m so grateful for that because, it really does help the work progress. However, I was able to note that even with that seeming infallible energy, after a week of work relying only on knocking on doors and contacting people, he seemed to get tired and a little discouraged. This impedes the work. So I´ve learned my lesson. So I´m hoping the members all got excited by the baptisms we´ve been having and give us references. However, we cannot neglect our own efforts either, because that´s a really important part of our fact all the 6 baptisms that Elder Perez and I had this last change came from knocking on doors and contacts by other companions. So there are those people waiting for us to be able to accept the gospel, waiting to be found. But we have to work with the balance between the two.

So we will see if this proves to be key to success in the mission. I´ve been struggling in finding this balance, but I think I´ve realized how important it is, and so we will focus more on developing this balance. Please pray for us that we may have success in our efforts this week!

Well, time is short, so I´ll finish just saying thanks for everything. Keep praying for us so that we can keep working and have success in it.


Elder Blackham

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Weekly Letter: March 1-7, 2011

para todos uds:

Another transfer period has passed. I really can´t believe that this six weeks have passed so quickly! I still haven´t gotten over the fact that it´s 2011...let alone that we´re already well into March of that year! I wonder if time has gone so fast for anybody else but me! It´s so crazy!

Well, I mentioned the last week, that Elder Perez was going to go home this week. Actually, from the time I´m writing, he should be landing in the airport in Tampico about now. It was a great experience to be able to work with a real veteran. I wish to be able to teach with the clarity and plainness that he had come to be able to teach with. I guess it will come with time.

Also, I was able to send off Elder Perez...but wet from the four baptisms we had this Sunday. The members here were so excited when they heard about the baptism. This ward had not enjoyed any convert baptisms for a period of 5 months until Elder Perez and Elder Sanders baptized the last week of their first change here, and then they baptized the first week of the change before the special changes when I came here, and we baptized other 6 together. Really, we have been blessed to reap the fruits of what these Elders had planted.

The work goes on. This Sunday in fast and testimony meeting a friend of a member got up to bear her testimony and said that she wanted to get baptized after seeing the Amalia´s baptism the week before. As good missionaries, we were quick to talk to the family who had brought her to church, she lives in the ward boundaries, and her mom wants to come the next week to church, but right now the situation is difficult for the father of the family. But we´re going to see if we can teach the whole family!

So we have some prospective fruits here in Independencia. We do have to fill in the gap left after baptizing almost all of our progressing investigators. I checked the Area book and there are a lot of people that we can talk to, but first we have to find them, some of them don´t have an address...and others have an address, but not a reference of what neighborhood they live in. Here there are a bunch of streets that have the same name in every town. Oh well, I guess we´ll have to work a little harder in finding these people, and maybe we´ll find other people prepared to hear our message on the way.

I just realized that I´ve been writing for a while, and I haven´t even mentioned my companion. His name is Elder Rosales, and he comes from Piedras Negras, Coauhila. Basically on the border of Texas. He says the violence there was pretty intense, but he´s glad to be here in the mission, even though he doesn´t want to pick up a Chilango accent (that´s what they call the people from Mexico City). He has just gotten out of the CCM in Mexico City, so I´m a trainer again. It´s funny because Lauritzen is still in Centro, so he got to know his younger brother(in the mission) yesterday in the District meeting.

So yeah, I´m pretty excited because Elder Rosales has come with a lot of desires to work...which we will need to do to fill in our gap in our investigators in teaching after baptizing so many this Sunday. However, I feel like this is a lot of responsibility, and that I need help to be able to complete it. I know the Lord has called me on the mission and as such has prepared the way to complete with all the responsibilities that may come during the mission, but I ask for your prayers to help me in this time.

Thank you all for the prayers and support.


Elder Blackham

Weekly Letter: February 22-February 28

para todos uds:

The work goes on.

I cannot believe that next week are changes. I imagine that I will be staying here in this area, but still it´s really weird to realize that it´s already been a month and half since when I was in Centro. Of course, this change I was in two areas, so maybe that´s why this change went so fast. It´s funny, Elder Perez cannot believe that in ten days he will be in his house! And I can´t believe it either! The first few months of my mission, I was aware of people going home from their missions, but now I´m seeing missionaries that I´ve known going home from their missions. At the beginning of my mission, Elder Perez was in the same zone, I asked him how much time he had, and he told me that a little more than a year...I never thought that I would be his last companion in the mission...but here I am!

The time really keeps going without any sign of stopping. I´m starting to finally feel like I have a year in the mission, but it´s really weird to think that I´m half way done. At the beginning of my mission I thought that two years were so long, that I would be a missionary for so long....but wow! A year has already gone!

Before I get distracted by how fast time goes like I always do my letters, I think I should write something a little more significant. This week, we also had some fruits. The baptism that we had scheduled for this week went through and it was really special. She´s named Amalia, and had several fears about the baptism, I think due to the fact that she´s half-hydrophobic. We told her that nothing was going to happen, but she still had some concerns during this week. But Saturday, when we showed up with the other Elders that were going to interview her, she said that she felt extremely calm about the idea of it.

However, when the day of her baptism came, she starting feeling worried again, she was shaking visible before she entered in the font. When she entered, she was shocked that the water was so warm. Then when Elder Perez baptized her, she closed her eyes, but as she was submerged in the water, she said that she saw her own baptism as if she were standing outside the font. She had been worried that at the last second she was going to have a panic attack in the water, but there in the water, all those worries were subsided. It was a great experience.

After our services, we had to run to Centro, because they were going to baptize a family that I had begun to teach, and one of them wanted me to baptize her. So Sunday was full of baptisms, and it felt really special. I will admit, that I feel better when another brother baptizes somebody, but even so, with this family it was something special. I had started teaching them with Elder Mendoza like four months ago, and I felt like they weren´t going to progress. So we only visited them once a week. However, with Lauritzen they began to show interest near the end of the change, and I felt like it was possible that they would be baptized, but I really wasn´t sure. However, yesterday when they were all dressed in white, I realized how the Lord sees His children, and never forgets them, even when they appear not to "progress." I was also moved by the symbolism of the baptism that I hadn´t recognized before, and how similar it is to when we go to the temple. Seeing that family all in white made me think of how it would be when they entered the temple together, and then my eyes were opening in seeing how the baptism really is just a step towards the temple, and how everything in the church and in all the ordinances point to the temple!

Anyway, we had several good experiences this week. We don´t have anyone with a baptismal date, but if we work really hard this week, I think we can baptize at least two more this week...maybe four. It would be a great way to send off Elder Perez. I think we can do it, but we do need some help, because it would be a small miracle if we baptized these people this week. But I believe that with the help of the Lord, we can do it!

Thanks for everything! Please keep praying for us here, we need the help!


Elder Blackham\