Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas in Sweden!


A lot happened this week!  I’ll start off by saying that there is snow again!  Super pretty, but before that we had Christmas haha. ~ Was kind of weird because there was NO SNOW for Christmas!  Super crazy, but it’s coming now! 

Uppsala crew watching the sun rise
on Christmas Eve morning (around 9am) 
Watching the sunrise Christmas Eve Morning
with the missionaries in Uppsala.
Christmas presents!!!
Mom and Family :)
As missionaries here, we had a few days off for Christmas from work so we did several things!  First we woke up, went to Gamla Uppsala to watch the sunrise while sitting on top of Viking burial mounds.  It was pretty epic and was super pretty!  Late that day we got invited to a members to eat and play games! Christmas day, we went to another families house to eat, play games, skype our families.  Later that night we watched Disney movies at their house!  Was a party indeed. :)  It was super cool to see my family and talk to them!  I haven't talked to them in about 7 months!  So that was a blast.  Got some cool gifts and felt the love!
Dad and Family :)

Yesterday (Sunday) was pretty cool too.  It was actually was my first time giving a FULL talk in Swedish at church!  (Given my “testimony" several times, but not a full talk)  It was actually pretty easy and I feel like I can express myself better now!  Feels great.  I think that is the toughest thing for me is not being able to share all of my feelings and express my self all the way in Swedish, but it really is so much better and is coming along!

Christmas Caroling/contacting with
missionaries in our District!
We also did a fun thing with our district!  We got together with all the missionaries in our city, gathered together in Uppsala and caroled in town while some were contacting and talking to people.  It was actually pretty effective.  We think we will be in the paper too, because the news guy was taking pictures of us haha.  Talked to about 150 people in about an hour and a half!  haha  We left them with Cards and candy canes until we ran out of candy canes then we just left them with cards.  We still have New Years left and we are excited for that.  We will be working hard until then though!  Not as much time to write today so I’m going to have to end it kind of early, but I love every body! 

God Jul (Merry Christmas)! and have a happy New Year! :) :)
Äldste Blackburn
Forest in our backyard.

Sunday before Christmas with the Uppsala crew!
Companionship unity!

Jul dag med Familijen Holmdah!
(Christmas Day with the Holmdahls!) :)

Finally snow again!

Sweet selfie watching the Sunrise!
Day after Christmas lunch with our
member friend Lennart!
"Draw me Jack"

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

We are never alone...

I'm glad I will be in this
beautiful city for 6 months!
This week was BIG!  Äldste Bailey and I decided we were tired of each other :) and that we wanted to go down to Västerhaninge to pick up some new companions.  So we did that on Wednesday morning!  Our train left at 7:22am so we had to get up pretty early.  We then proceeded to travel to Stockholm and on the bus ride I remembered one thing.  I forgot one of my tickets at home on my desk!  It was the ticket from my city to the Church in Stockholm where we would be picking up our new missionaries, haha. SO... We got to Uppsala station and I had to buy another ticket, and that worked. That was just dumb on my part but we made it there. :)  

We showed up and there were about 26 trainers and new missionaries that we briefly saw.  HUGE GROUP!  The trainers went down stairs to wait about 30-45 minutes while they had the presentation and meeting with new missionaries up stairs in the Church.  That was exciting!  We had no idea who we would get and we were all on the edge of our seats! :D  The time came when President and Sister Becktrand walked down stairs and the big moment was approaching!  The time came and they talked to us for a few minutes and then said that it’s time to go up!  I was so excited!  As soon as we walked into the room with all the new missionaries, it became silent and you could see how nervous/excited all of them were!  I was scanning out for potential companions.  Just then at the next moment, President would begin to invite a new missionary to come up and read their letter with there Trainers name and their new city they will be serving in.  

They went through all 24 until there were two new missionaries and two trainers left.  We both happened to be sitting next to each other too!  President then called both the new missionaries up to the front of the room and I saw Äldste Bentson and knew I would be getting him!  I could feel it in my soul!!  The other new missionary then read his first and announced that it was the other trainer!  Then last but not least, Äldste Benston announce he "will be getting trained by Äldste Blackburn and has been called to serve and labor in Uppsala.” I WAS SO EXCITED!!   I ran up there and gave him a big hug!  The rest is history, but we have a had a good time together so far.  

Off with the old and on with the new!
Parting ways with our new missionaries :)
Äldste Benston is so cool and we were made for each other.  We have been working hard this week and have had fun as well!  He’s not too bad at Swedish either!  He can understand for the most part what people say when we are contacting and has so much potential.  I’m super excited to see how the next 3 months are going to be.

CAROLINE!  She is the most coolest person ever!  Right now we are focusing on preparing her for baptism on the 3rd of January.  Her faith is so strong!  She is struggling a lot with pressure from friends. We have been in contact with her quite a bit and she was telling us about different situations and how she doesn't really know what to do.  In particular, she shared how she has a friend that was saying some bad things about the church.  We told her that before you take a big step in life towards Heavenly father such as Baptism, Satan will do everything in his power to try and distract you from this.  I told her it was the same thing for me as I prepared for my mission, and shared an experience of mine.  We told her that people say these things because of misunderstanding and shared that if her friend wants to understand what we do and how we live as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, we would be more than happy to meet with him to help him understand! :)  She said that he wants to come to church and meet us, but warned us that he might be mean. But I’m excited!  I think he will be surprised with what he sees! :D  The important thing here at the moment is Caroline and her faith.  She made it clear to us that it hasn't changed and that she still wants to follow God with all of her heart.  She knows that God is there, that the Book of Mormon is true, and that this is Jesus Christ's Church restored on the earth today. It is important to remember, as with anyone, that a testimony is a very personal thing.  Everyone has times in their lives when they must stand “alone”.  Christ and Heavenly father are always there, with arms wide.  We are never alone. 
Äldste Blackburn

Äldste Bentson!!!

This is a tradition in the mission to K"baptize" your son.
This delicious looking pizza you're looking at is the first time
Äldste Bentson has had this wondrous creation.
 It's called Kebab pizza!

Lucia Concert in the Domekyrka!
More Lucia!
Domkyrka at 3:00pm!!
Yessss.... My slave.. :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

If you want to be a "Beast" then be willing to do what "Beasts" do!


Getting ready to travel down to Stockholm tomorrow to pick up my new "son."  SUPER EXCITED!   I also found out I will be staying here in Uppsala to train.   My companion, Äldste Bailey, will be moving down to Utby, Göteborg to train!  I’ll miss that guy but he’s going to do good things down there!!
I"ll start off by saying why
 I'm emailing on Tuesday instead of Monday.  Äldste Bailey and I had to travel up to Gävle yesterday to teach a High School class about our religion.  It was an interesting experience! It was a class of like 14 girls and 1 boy.  They really didn't care and didn't want to be at school so we tried to be as entertaining as possible.  We made them laugh a bit! (laughing with us, and not at us.. so that is good).  We pretty much taught them the first lesson we teach all people, but in a more fun way! We also explained a bit about us, and why we are out here (on missions).  We showed them the Church Christmas video for this year "En Frälsare Är Född” (A Savior is Born - and then opened it up to questions. They were not super interested but it was a cool experience!  So we were there for a while and got back in time for Family Home Evening at the Church.

Today we had to shop for the week, do laundry, and email!  We also taught a few lessons.  We were also able to visit some people before Äldste Bailey leaves.  Gävle is an awesome city!  Every Christmas they have a massive straw goat that they put up and see how long it can last before it burns down.  The city doesn't burn it but people every year find secret clever ways to burn it.  haha  BUT if you are caught doing it, you can go to jail!  Crazy!  One year people actually tried to fly in a helicopter and take it out but that didn't work haha.  Pretty awesome I must say!

Äldste Bailey and I have been going hard this last week together.  Despite the lack of sunshine and the approaching cold, we have been spending every last minute together working hard!  I have been thinking a lot about how I should train the new missionary that I will be training.  One thing I want to focus on the next 12 weeks with my new "son" is the fact that we all have been given gifts and talents. We need to find out what they are and use them to relate to people.  That is really a major key i think. Also, to be confident on what he does know.  With the Swedish language for example, just not being afraid to talk to people with what he has learned so far and going hard everyday and don’t leave anything behind! (to go for it)  This will be a major learning experience for both of us for sure! :D  I feel a lot more comfortable with my Swedish now and I feel like I can understand pretty well. ~ Better than I can speak. That’s the only thing I’m worried about with training is the language.  BUT the Lord doesn't call people to do something without a way to do it.  I know that He will help me as I train this new missionary! 

In other news, Caroline is doing so fantastic!  So much has happened with her that I dont even know where to start but I’ll sum it up by saying how much of a desire she has to do what is right and feel God. As we first met with her, we told her that we would invite her to do certain things. If she does them, she will feel God stronger than she has ever imagined.  We also taught her that if she reads the Book of Mormon and prays about it with a sincere heart, she will receive an answer and that this is the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth today.  This last week she sent us a text saying she has received an answer and was trying to say over text how happy she is and how she was crying with joy!  She said a lot more, trying to describe how she was feeling and how she was wanting to meet with us in person to share it with us!  We have met with her a lot this week and we have a baptismal date with her for January 3rd!   She is so set for that :)  My green and I will continue to prepare her for that and make sure she feels ready.  She is a walking testimony to me.  Äldste Bailey and I were talking and we were saying how she is that one person on the mission that makes it all worth it.  Love it!!  Every time we meet she is "hungering" for more information!  Having that desire to know is the key.  Acting on that desire is the other. 

Quote I took from Äldste Bailey this last transfer and something I’m going to take with me for the rest of my life is  ~  "Everybody wants to be a beast! .. Until its time to do what beasts do.  If you want it to happen, get your butt up and make it happen!"

Love you all! <3
Äldste Blackburn
Fint middag med Familjen Hammar!
(nice dinner with the Hammer family!)
The famous massive
straw goat in Gävle! 
Kung foo lesson after distict  meeting again!
One of my favorite members here
gave us socks for christmas!
Last dinner with all of us together at the Hammers house!
Syster Kamauoha and Äldste Bailey will be missed
Our "funeral" for Syster Sandalin :( She has served a good 18th month
mission here in Sweden and is heading home!
But she is actually Swedish and lives in Sweden so
she wont be missed too much. haha

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Thanksgiving and some BIG NEWS

Hallå!! :) 

This week was super busy but awesome!  First off I’ll start out with a little story that will explain why all my hair is gone... So I was thinking after Thanksgiving that my hair was getting a little long and poofy/bushy, so I was in need of a hair cut.  We got this clipper kit from the senior couple and decided we were going to cut my hair!  I trusted my dear companion to have the honors of taking on such a task.  He did an amazing job on the sides!  Nice and short and the lines were looking good.  We then realized that there is a "thinner" attachment (my hair gets super bushy and thick so i thought that was a good idea.)  We decided that we should thin my hair and shortly into it, it caught a big chunk of hair  and cut it off in the front of my head!  Completely shaved down! hahaha  We were dying laughing so hard!  We then decided it would be the best idea to just shave it down all the way to make it look better and we did!  It was a lot shorter than i thought.. haha!  But it’s ok, it will grow back.  Äldste Bailey wont stop calling me Caillou because I"m pretty much bald haha. SO THAT HAPPENED.

Other BIG NEWS!  I got a call from my mission president on Sunday night.  When he asked to talk to Äldste Blackburn my heart stopped… haha.  I got on the phone and he told me that I will be training a new missionary this next transfer!! :) :) Super stoked!!  I get to go down to Stockholm on Friday for a training for me, and then will pick up my "son" (new missionary) next Wednesday!!!  I dont know what city I will be training yet, but where ever it will be I will for sure be in that area for 3 months.  Super excited though! :)  Feels like things are moving foward now as far as the mission goes!  It will definatley be a learning experience for both me and my new greenie. My companion right now, Äldste Bailey will be training as well.

We did a lot this week!  We had an amazing Thanksgiving dinner
Some companionship love going on here.
Uppsala missionaries at the Koyles for dinner.

at the Koyles house (a senior couple here)  We also went to Stockholm for zone training which was cool, and then went again for another Thanksgiving dinner with the missionaries in the Stockholm zone!  They actually ended up having missionaries coming from the zone below us too which was awesome to see some old friends!  Visited Gamla Uppsala which was super old and pretty…. Like, Viking old!  The hills there were Super big and actually burying grounds for old Viking kings and such.  Pretty interesting!  

Selfies with Äldste Walker!

We got some good snow these past few days and hopefully it’s going to start snowing hard here pretty quick.  It’s better because then it’s not all wet and gross anymore haha. 

Äldste Bailey and I are working with the coolest people!  Some GREAT meetings this week!  First there is a girl whose name is Caronline.  She is married and has a baby of 7 weeks old!  She was contacted by Äldste Bailey and his other campanion he had last transfer and found his blog, and then commented on it saying how she has been trying to get a hold of him and couldn't.  So we were then excited and we got in contact with her and set up a lesson.  She came to church with her baby one day for a lesson and it was so spiritual!  She is searching so hard which church is true and is trying to feel God more in her life but doesnt know how.  She is the nicest girl and just had us over today as well.  This time we went to her place and taught her for 2 hours!!  We both felt like she needed more and that we weren’t ready to leave.  Her baby was crying a lot too which made it difficult but it’s understandable!  This is important because shortly before we ended, Äldste Bailey said a silent prayer asking that the baby could go to sleep so we could have a kneeling prayer.  Right as we closed, the baby went to sleep and we were able to say a prayer.  As soon as we left, she texted us that the baby woke up and started crying again!  haha  Crazy, but that was kind of cool.  Another cool thing is that she is sincerely reading the Book of Mormon … Sends us questions and everything!  She was saying how the Book of Mormon brings her peace and she really likes it as well as when she meets with us.  Reading, praying and meeting with us is when she is really touched by the spirit and wants to continue feeling it.  She just says its hard.  Right now, we need to focus on teaching her and helping her make that connection between her and God stronger. She is probably the most prepared person I have seen. AND shes Swedish which is crazy!
Hello people of Uppsala,
I have a gift for you for Christmas...
Eternal Happiness and Joy.
So pretty... Road leading to the Viking church.

This is why were are here. To find the prepared, plant seeds in peoples hearts, and invite people to come to Christ. Another reason specifically for this mission, is for ourselves.... It’s easy to think in this specific mission, that just because you haven't had a single baptism during your whole mission that you were unsuccessful.  But this mission is really for me as well….Bringing me closer to Christ.  Having to rely on Him more than anything or anyone because there are days that not a single person will listen.  It really helps me to know that I’m out sharing this message because of Him.  And because of that, He is with me every day and that is what I’m striving to keep with me always.  He lives.

Have a good week every one! 
Äldste Blackburn
I loved my Thanksgiving :)
On splits with Äldste walker in Gamla Uppsala 

I think we have found the only hills in our city
and they are not even natural!
They are actually graves of Vikings!

It's super cold! 

The Viking church looks good from all angles!

This was a statue at one of the houses
 we were tracting.  Pretty Epic!

Äldste Bailey snagged this picture as we
were teaching these girls about
Mormons Bok on the street!