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 lot...so 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, well....it´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 missionary....wow, I don´t like the way that looks writing it. It´s so...final.

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