Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Goodbye America ~ HELLO Sweden!!

Hey!!  So I only have a few minutes left because I sent so many pictures.  So much happened this week!  First, we flew out on Monday.  The first two legs (to Denver, then to New Jersey) were great.  The final leg to Stockholm, we were actually ahead of schedual but that flight was soooo long!  It smells so fresh here!  I noticed off the bat how good the water is and how clean everything is.  Beautiful country!  They took us on a tour around Stockholm and we were all SO tired and we had to get some legal stuff taken care of with the visa etc.  I was fighting so hard not to sleep. 

Here we go!

Talking to our families at the airport

This flight was evil.  STILL getting over jet lag.

Sleeping on the long flight!

Arrived in Stockholm ~ With our President and Sister Beckstrand, our District, and other missionaries to greet us.
(Editors note:  Upon arrival, he was taken the the City of Stockholm for immigration paperwork and then went to the Church’s Young Single Adult Center for lunch, training, and some "street contacting”.  He was then shown some of the city and was taken to the Mission Office and had an orientation (told all the rules :):)  The group went to the mission Presidents home (Pres. Beckstrand and his wife), had dinner and stayed the night in their home.  Then next day started at 6:30 am for  some more training.  He was introduced to his companion and trainer, Elder Stoeltzing and will serve for a time with him in the city of Boras, which is south, closer to Denmark.  President said, “I would like you to know I have experienced some of my most tangible moments of revelation in the assigning of companionships.  I know your son and Elder Stoeltzing will learn much from each other and together will be edified as they labour valiantly, with full purpose of heart and obedience in the service of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”)
Elder Stoeltzing and I ready to kill it in Göteborg, Borås.

The first night we slept at the mission home, and the second day we got our assignment and and met our trainer.   My first companion is Elder Jacob Stoeltzing from Carmichael California!   haha  Funny how we were put together because we knew each other before the mission and he is the only one I know that is serving here right now.  We are serving in Göteborg, Borås. So beautiful! 

Not much time to talk about all that happend but are settling in and having fun and working hard.  One cool thing is musical instruments are approved!  My Companion has a guitar and I'm picking up an acoustic bass soon.  We do a lot with the two sisters in our town and they are are super cool.  We are all from California!  Awesome, and they are musicians too so we have had a lot of fun during down time.  We will try to incorporate music into our teaching.  

Sweden is incredible and the food is amazing.  There is cobble stone everywhere and water everywhere and trees everywhere!  The language is definatly tough here because of accents and talking really fast but it's coming slowly.  We have some good study plans laid out.  We have a lot of lessons laid out (appointments with people) this next week and i'ts good because we are both new to this area so we're building it up together.  

It’s really nice having Elder Stoeltzing as my companion.  We are both really similar and we get along really well and have lots of fun.  The dynamic in this mission is great and there was so much that happend this last week and not enough time to write, but I will have more time next week.  One thing that I am working on is "opening my mouth".  I have really learned that you never know what a person is like.  The other day there was this kid siting on a bench and he looked like a punk skater kid that would want nothing to do with the church but we felt like we should talk to him.  He was very interested and we got his number and are going to set up a lesson. 

Great experiences here and it feels good to be back in the real world and invite others (for real) to come to Christ.  
Love you all!
Selfie with Brother Cheeney, one of our Swedish teachers.

Packing and getting ready to leave the MTC.
Taking it all in!!

Our MTC District with President and Sister Beckstrand and the Assistants to the President.

A visit to the Stockholm Temple.

An American Jeep!!

This is called Kabob and it is the most delicious thing in the world!!

Ward Taco Party!!

At my desk in our apartment.
At the railroad tracks with the sisters serving in the city.  We are all from California and all musicians!  What are the odds of that?

Brought a little taste of Mexico to Sweden!
 Nice little candid on the way to Borås
Min Komrat (my companion) Äldste Stoeltzing

 The Milk here is SOOO GOOOD!
Selfie in the city.

A member took us to lunch....steak place called Jenson's Böfhus and he bought us giant hamburgers.
Beautiful nature

So Beautiful.  Reminds me of home...

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Flight Plans!

This week was great!  It went by really fast and the MTC has like doubled in size.  So many elders and sisters! 

Look who got their flight plans!
So I got my flight plans for Sweden.  We have to meet at the travel office this next Monday at 2:30 in the morning, and then we take off to the airport.  I forgot what time were actually flying out but we have two lay overs. The first is in Denver Colorado, then the next is in New Jersey, then straight to Stockholm!  I guess we should be arriving in Sweden about 8:30 in the morning so we will have a full day.  

​4 more dagar till vi aka till Sverige!! (och Norway..) *days till we fly to Sweden!
In Sweden they have this big festival once a year celebrating Mid-Summer and we’re missing it by one day!  No worries though, I hear the mission President takes us on a tour of Stockholm but I guess I’ll find out in 4 days!  Pretty excited.  At this point its all about "speaking your language" and memorizing grammar principals and using them throughout the day.  That's really what my companion and I are working on.  All the Elders going to Denmark left this week, and the two elders going to Iceland are gone as well. Other than that this week went by really quick. 

​With the Dutch Squad

Last night I cut my foot and I would take a picture and show it but this new camera shows far to much detail.  I would hate to make anyone sick hahaha.  I'll just say I was being stupid and leave it at that.  I'm sure it should heal pretty quick though.  I'm getting sick of this food and want some real nutritious meals!  But I'm making the best of this MTC experience as I can.  It has been so fun and my testimony of Jesus Christ and his gospel has grown so much in the past 5 1/2 weeks.  Love hearing how everyone is doing and it’s kinda weird to think about that this is my last few days in America for 2 years!  Love it.  Love every one. Tack ska du ha for all the letters packages and love. 

-Aldste Blackburn

​The only two Swedish Elders say goodbye to the only two Icelandic elders. They will do great!

I love this place... and my new camera :)

​Selfie Sunday! (with some dutch, Norwegian and new German friends)

Ya. Watch out Sweden and Norway.
​​I had to at least try it! haha

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Singing in the MTC

This week was awesome.  First, Elder Nielson and I auditioned for a vocal duet this last Thursday accompanied by Elder Murphy.   It was a very cool arrangement of "Praise to The Man."  We had to have it memorized, and we auditioned in front of the MTC Presidents wives and some other people. They loved us and told us that we had a spot and they could use us for something. They would put a letter in our mail boxes to let us know when and where we would performing.  So that day I got two envelopes and one said we will be performing at Mission Conference for fast Sunday!  I was pretty stoked and it went really well.  The whole mission was there (all people at MTC and Presidencies).  We were on the big screens haha.  It was weird singing in front of that many people but I tried something different than what I have always done.  What I used to do to calm me down before a performance was think about all the previous performances I have had and that would kind of work. This time I tried a less self centered way, and prayed that the Lord would help me and that I could share my testimony of this song with the congregation.  It really worked.  When I got up there, I was so relaxed. 

Also got another envelope saying that we will be performing today for the new incoming missionary meetings.  There are almost 700 new missionaries coming in today and it’s two separate meetings so we'll go from one to the other.  So I have that today and we have to be there for sound check at 2:15.  Should be a fun time. So that was really cool.

The food is getting better and I'm feeling better.  The language is getting more intense but I feel like our district is really progressing.  I was released as district leader this week, and it was a really hard decision on who the next would be between my companion... and my companion haha.  Kinda crazy I get my flight plans this Friday!  Almost out!  

At yesterdays devotional we had the General Relief Society President come and speak to us.  She was talking about how we can become better disciples of Christ.  That was pretty neat.  All I have been doing everyday for gym time is running and volleyball.   When I get back, all those volleyball players better watch out!  haha. On P-days we have a big zone soccer game and that's really fun.  I'm loving the letters, packages and dear elders! :)  Makes my day! (Sorry for no pics this week, I don't have the new camera yet.)

Jag kanner bra i MTC, Jag kan kanner den helige anden pa min liv, och jag alska min fralsare, Jesus kristus och hans Forsoning. Jag ar sa taksamma for joseph smith och Momons Bok. Jag vet att Mormons Bok ar Guds ord.

-Aldste Blackburn

(Translation: I feel good in the MTC , I can feel the Holy Ghost in my life, and I love my Savior, Jesus Christ and His Atonement. I am so thankful for Joseph Smith and  The Book of Mormon. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God.)

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Good week, but ready to go...

So this week was good!  I got a cold that has been going around and it has been kind of annoying.  Just have been feeling groggy and had a stuffy nose.  Just now starting to feel better tho!  Also my camera stopped working for some reason so I won’t have many pics and the ones that I have are on others cameras haha. 

Me and my companion have been teaching two "investigators" and they are both committed to baptism!  The last few lessons have been awesome because we have gotten good enough to not bring in any notes.  So all we bring is just a book of Mormon and maybe a brochure.  Feels pretty cool to just talk and I'm really starting to recognize the spirit while I'm teaching in Swedish.  At first it was hard because I was really thinking about what I was wanting to say but now it's getting more natural and I can really just listen.  My district has been SYLing alot. "Speak Your Language" and that's a big part of it.  Just our normal conversations will be in Swedish (or at least we try) haha. 

New roomies
Kind of weird to think that I'm getting my flight plans next week for Sweden.  I love the MTC but I can’t wait to get out there, haha. The new Dutch missionaries are pretty cool and my new roommates are pretty chill!  No problems there. Just taking it as it goes. ~ We have been so lucky here at the MTC. 

We had another apostle come and talk to us in our devotional last night!  Elder Christofferson and his wife spoke to us last night and it was awesome.   Again, no teleprompter and they really speak from the heart.  What was really cool is that this last Sunday, we had Janice Kapp Perry for our devotional.  If you don't know who she is, she wrote like all the really popular primary songs that we sing.  What I find interesting is that the the lyrics to her songs were from personal experiences.  She told a story how she got in a car accident with her husband and she messed up her neck really bad and if she laid down she couldn't breath, but the doctors had to lay her down to do some tests. She didn't know what to do and then she heard the words, "pray he is there, speak he is listening, you are his child, his love now surrounds you.” 

Jag alskar detta evangeliet och min fralsare jesus kristus, och jag ar taksamma for min missionskall att tjanna i Sverige. Jag alskar alla dig!

- Aldste Blackburn

(Translation:  I love this Gospel and my Savior Jesus Christ.  I’m thankful for my missionary vocation to serve in Sweden.  I love all of you!)
More silliness

Selfie with new Dutch Sista Stewart-Chester