Monday, April 18, 2011

Weekly Letter: April 12-17, 2011

para todos uds:

This week has been great. We are still so far away from reaching all the goals that we want to meet. However, I feel like the work is going forward at a really rapid pace. The Independencia Ward is working really hard to help us reach the goal that we have in mind to baptize 7 in April....however, this will be very difficult, because only one investigator went to church this week, and she still has to be married before she can get baptized. (and we´ve had some complications with that).

However, we feel like this area is progressing very well. We are never satisfied, but we feel like we´ve gotten a good feel about how to work in this area. We have literally had a miracle in the way the work has progressed in this last change. Elder Rosales and I have been looking at the numbers that we´ve had since the beginning of the change. We´ve had the goal as a mission that every companionship have 30 lessons a week. Which is more than 4 a day. The first week we had 13. However, the last two weeks have changed miraculously. Last week we had 24, and this week we had 26. Our daily goals for lessons changed from 4 to 6. If our appointments hadn´t fallen through on Tuesday and if we had had a better Sunday, we would have probably passed our goal.

Really, I feel so fortunate that we have been able to work some miracles in this area. The recent converts that Elder Perez and I baptized are so strong in the church that I can literally see them getting callings in the church really soon. We have also found some great new people here in this area. Israfil and Aracely only have to get married so she can get baptized and he can receive the priesthood. They´ve already started to give us references(and really good ones too), and they just barely got here.

We have also been blessed to see the progress of good investigators like Enrique Guerra, who will be able to go to church the first time this week with his family. He has been feasting on our lessons. He loves learning about the gospel because it makes sense. He always says that he is grateful that we found him.(he was street contact in front of the church) So yeah, that´s way cool.

We also have been blessed to find a new investigator this week. His name is Miguel Torres, and he might just be the miracle of this week...or even the change. We knocked on his door, and he answered. I asked him if he would be interested in the message we share, and he told us "How can I tell you if I´m interested if I haven´t heard anything about it?" So we passed by the next day, and had a powerful first lesson. He told us that he just felt astonished at the end, and couldn´t thank us enough for coming. He asked us what he could do. He wanted us to come by again...and we didn´t refuse. We invited him to go onto, and to church on Sunday. He didn´t show up on Sunday, but when we talked to him later that day he told us that his daughter got sick and had to take her to the doctor in the morning. But then he said he read everything from the site....even all the history of the church...and loved it!

We taught Lesson 2, and he again told us how astonished he was by the truth of it. He wants to invite his wife and daughter to be part of the lessons too, but his daughter is really young, so it´s complicated.

Anyway, I´ve got to go now because time is up. Thanks for the prayers and the support. We really are seeing fruits here in Independencia!


Elder Blackham

Weekly Letter: April 5-11, 2011

para todos uds:

I wish I could give more news about this week than what I have. The truth is, we had a little bit of disappointment at the end of the week. However, that does not mean that we didn´t have our share of miracles this week. Actually we had one really big miracle on Thursday.

It had just begun to rain and we were closer to the church than our house, we decided to get under a roof because it was actually hailing pretty bad. When we had just opened the church, a couple asked if they could come in too. We told them that it was okay. They came in and explained the situation. The husband to-be got baptized 13 years ago, but about a month ago returned to church. His family and the family of his girlfriend were not too happy about that. Anyway, they came all the way from the State of Guerrero to Santiago Miltepec, Toluca, the state of Mexico, and just happened to find us at that moment that it was raining.

We began to teach his girlfriend in the church while we waited out the rain. She didn´t know anything about the church, but liked what we explained about Joseph Smith. We felt so good in that lesson that when we explained the Holy Ghost answers our prayers, I felt inspired to say "You´re already feeling it, aren´t you?" She nodded the affirmative with a broad smile on her face. We then made the arrangements so that they could stay the night in the Bishop´s house, because that was their first day in Toluca, and didn´t have a place to live here. Actually the families are so against them leaving home, and them marrying each other, that they took out all the money in their account.

However, they were able to find a house that only asked for rent 900 pesos a month with a really nice owner (that actually wants to listen to us too), and he was able to find a job the second day here in Toluca. Everything has lined up for them. We actually already explained the Law of Chastity with them, and they are already trying to get the papers they need to get married! Then on Friday, my companion went with Elder Hawker to see them (because I had to go to another area with Elder Hawker´s companion Elder Talamilla), and they had a great lesson. They taught the Plan of Salvation, and she said at the end that she liked it when we came, because she felt chills every time of us talked...but that she felt happier than she thought was possible. In that moment, my companion invited her to baptism, and she accepted, but we have to make the arrangements that they can get married in these next two weeks.

However, she and her boyfriend were not able to get to church this week, because she woke up early Sunday to get ready, when she suddenly felt really bad in the stomach. Here in Toluca we are really high in elevation, especially in comparison with Guerrero, and they live on a hill. She found out that she got sick because she wasn´t used to the elevation, and kept going the hill, and going down, and going up, and down again.

So that was why we felt a little bad on Sunday, because we had several people that told us that they were sure to be in church this week. One that is Amalia´s neighbor who actually was so sure he was going to go, that he told her that he would pass for her in his car(because they live pretty far away from the church). Then we had another family, we´ve been talking to the Dad, and I think he´s pretty golden, however, we found out late Saturday night that he had to work Sunday in the he didn´t go either. We had several people that we were pretty sure were going to go, but nobody came. However, we can´t be discouraged, I know that God is always in the details, and that there is a reason why they didn´t go yesterday.

Anyway, we really did have a great week, and we are feeling the prayers in the lives of our investigators and in our lives. Keep praying for us. We still have a lot of work to do!

Thanks for the support and prayers!


Elder Blackham

Weekly Letter: March 29-April 4, 2011

para todos uds:

So, here I am reporting on another week in the mission....and now with
fourteen months as a! Yeah, we had a good week this
week. Conference always does that! However, I don´t want to write more
about this week until I write about something that happened last week.

We baptized Amalia about a month ago, and she has flourished as a
member since. She is such a help in the mission work. Whenever we have
referrals from her, or we are teaching over there, she starts to look
after our investigators over there, trying to give them a little bit
of support that they might need. And she´s always talking to her
neighbors about us.

Apart from that, she has grown so much spiritually. Last week we were
teaching a class on the Primitive Church of Jesus Christ, and some of
the characteristics of that church....when we mentioned the work for
the dead, she made a comment about how the spirits are also working
hard at this missionary work. I was surprised by the comment, because
we hadn´t ever explained that, but I thought it wasn´t too strange
because she went to the visitor´s center the day before by the temple.

However, when we talked to her afterward, she told us that nobody had
explained that to her. She almost entered in the baptismal part
of the temple without realizing what she was doing. She then said that
she saw into the temple and saw people working here...but also the
spirits working on the other side of the veil. The vision only lasted
a moment, and she told the sister next to her what she saw. The
sister explained a little bit about the doctrine before entering into
the baptistry. However, when she told us this we had no doubt that she
had received revelation from God.

The work keeps going miraculously. I think there are some very few
times that we realize how meaningless this work would be if it were a
work of a man. Two young who is learning the
language....cannot do what we do. Even in the hard times, I keep
remembering that and I´m overwhelmed with gratitude.

This week we talked to an investigator, Enrique Guerra about the Plan
of Salvation. We had already taught the first lesson to him, and
were expecting a discussion about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.
But when we got there, he didn´t express a single doubt of the
truthfulness of Joseph Smith´s calling, or of the Book of Mormon. He only
asked for clarification about where it was written, because we
explained it was in America. He had already read the chapter we
left for him to read, and then proceeded from the beginning of the book
to read. He was confused because it talked about Egypt(more on that
later), and Jerusalem....which confused him because the book, we had
said, was written here in the Americas.

Anyway, we had a excellent lesson with him. Actually when my companion
mentioned the Spirit World, he looked him straight in the eye and
said, "I believe you." The only thing that got us down is that he can
only receive us once a week because of his work. Then later, he was
going to go to the Conference with his wife, but he got an unexpected
call from work and had to go in. My companion and I (along with him)
were disappointed, because we felt that he could have gotten baptized
this week.

I wrote a note on Egypt to remind me of something that we realized
today. Today we went as a Zone to some pyramids in our area. I´ve
attached some of the photos from the trip, but I didn´t get as many as
I wanted because my camera ran out of battery. However, it was really
impressing to see a place outside the circular pyramid(one of only
three in the world...and in my area yeah!), that collected water, but
also could have been used as a baptismal font.

However, the thing that really impressed me was next to the other
pyramid...and I didn´t get a picture of this one. However, we should
know that the language in which was written the Book of Mormon
originally was Reformed Egyptian, which implies that Lehi and his
family had a lot of Egyptian influence in their family. So we would
think that there would be a little bit of Egyptian influence here in
the Americas, right?

When we went up to the other pyramid, we saw stone building that was
shaped peculiarly. When we got up we saw that it was a cross, but with
one end rounded. I asked the security that was there what it was. He
simply said that he didn´t know exactly but was shaped like an
Egyptian cross. I looked at him and said, "Egyptian?!" he looked at me
and laughed, "Yeah, weird, right?" I guess he didn´t realized what was
going on in my head because he didn´t have the background knowledge
that we do about the Book of Mormon as members of the church. He
continued to talk to the other missionaries about other things, and so
we didn´t have time to explain the significance of this discovery.

Obviously this doesn´t prove anything...but the Lord is never going to
prove the Book of Mormon, but it definitely strengthens a testimony
acquired by the spirit. No one will be able to prove the Book of
Mormon is not true, because it is, however, no one will be able to
prove that the Book of Mormon is true either. Because that would
frustrate the plan of God, who wishes that we walk "with the eye of
faith." However, how glad I am to be here to be able learn more about
this, and obtain a testimony even greater than before about these

I am so glad for this opportunity of being a missionary, not just for
these activities which really please a person like me who is
interested in History, but the opportunity to be a representative of
the true church on the face of the earth. No unhallowed hand can keep
this work from progressing....and so it keeps going.

I´m sorry that I couldn´t write more about the week, but time is
short. Thank you all for your support and prayers. Please keep praying
for me!


Elder Blackham