Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The cold is coming!

Busy streets of Sweden
Now THAT'S an organ! (Trying not to compare to the Mormon Tabernacle) 
Man this week was busy! 

Here in Sweden, they have what they call “Semester" and it’s like a month off from work for everyone.  People take it at different times but most people do it around now.  So the work as been slower lately with people on vacation.  This last week though, despite that, it was really busy!   The Zone leaders came over and did "work overs” (they stay with us and we split up) which was fun.  During these "work overs” I had and awesome experience. My companion and one of the zone leaders went off and did there own lesson and while they did that, we prepared to teach a lesson with the sisters.  When we got to the apartment where we were supposed to teach, they weren't home so we thought, what we could do? ... We thought, “WELL… We all can sing!" (the zone leader I was with is a music Major) SO … We went musical tracting\contacting!  

We went around outside asking people if we could sing a hymn for them in accapella, 4 part (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass).  We also knocked on doors and asked if we could sing to them.  We even sang to people out side from there balconies!!  It really brightened peoples day and we got some people that were interested!  So that was fun. 

Our Zone destroys at volleyball.
We got a baptismal date!  Our investigator that we’re working with along with the Sisters has a baptismal date now.  Super excited!  He has progressed so fast this last week!  So proud of him.  He has a testimony of so much!  I heard him pray out loud for the first time and it was so sweet hearing a persons first prayer!  It is a blessing because it is probably one of the most sincere and heart to heart prayers you will hear and the spirit was so strong.  

The team that truly destroys.
This next week should be great!  Beside that, it looks like winter is coming early!  I'm starting get a little taste of the cold rain.  It can be cold, and that’s fine….. but when you have rain WITH a cold wind, then that´s a party!!  Training is going great.  Really spending a lot of time practicing lessons and doing language study.  It’s coming along and I’m about half way through my training now :)  

Love you all! 
Äldste Blackburn

Team Celestial Crew

Monday, July 20, 2015

Miracles and Blessings

Quick tour of old Swedish church bell tower
Wow!  This week has been great!  I’ll start off with an awesome thing that happend… Well, you know how I lost my wallet about two weeks ago?  It's been hard not having that much money for food and It would have taken at least a month to get my credit and debit cards from the States and who knows how long it would be to get another drivers license.  We just cancelled my last card yesterday morning, and we were out tracting on a street that we usually don’t tract on but we both wanted to and we were going along when we heard, “Hey!  Can you guys help me with something?" Then he pulled out a black wallet and opened it up and there was my licence and all of my cards!! ~  Including my credit, debit, and missionary fund card!  It was amazing!!  So I hugged this guy.  God will answer prayers in mysterious ways even if it takes two weeks. 

Behind the clock
More Swedish church!
Oh! …. and we had some awesome lessons with different investigators and members this week!  Also had some intense service, digging MASSIVE trenches around this members house for drainage.  The dirt here is full of boulders and rocks so it was a good work out.  Also, I had my Greeny prank!  (a “greeny” is someone new to the mission) After zone conference, the two sisters in Borås, our district leader, and my companion talked together and set up this prank when we were on splits.  It consisted of them telling me the sisters were in big touble for moral problems and that they were going home.  I was so sad!!!  It went on ALL day, and our "mission president" was calling all day and "talking to our district leader" and I was so convinced!  I was very impressed with everyone's acting skills.  Honestly, the sisters looked SO sad and I was really upset that they were going home because they are awesome.  That night, our district leader called my companion and I at our apartment and told us that the sisters were going home tomorrow morning and that they wanted to talk to us on the phone before they leave.  Man, I felt so bad I cant even explain on the computer but they talked to us and were saying how much they will miss us and stuff and then it came out that is was all a prank!  hahaha … I freaked out with confusion and then joy…  hahaha.  It was an EPIC prank to say the least!  Ya, so that shook me up a little but but I’m glad they're not gone. 

Oh. Ya. I wasn't able to play it tho :(
We are teaching this awesome Icelandic guy who is super cool and loves God but is REALLY addicted to marijuana.  He hasn’t been able to move past that and this last time we met it was so spiritual and the lesson turned out so different.  He has a problem with stopping because he used to hate God for personal reasons and then he started really smoking and that helped him come to realize that God is there for him.  Going back to this lesson, I then asked him, “Do you believe that God puts things in peoples lives to help them grow and that he works in mysterious ways?"  and he said  "oh ya.”  Then I said, “Maybe the only way God could get you to come to him at this point in your life was through smoking and now that you are following him,  you are now destined for great things and can really grow into your full potential.”  Then it was really silent.  He said “Maybe I’ve just been stubborn…"  Something really clicked and it was a blessing to witness that.  

My Swedish is coming along and I can understand a lot more as well as speak a lot more.  I blessed the sacrament last sunday in swedish also which was cool.  I love this gospel.  

Love you all!
-Äldste Blackburn
Its important that you shave everyday

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Yes, This really IS a mission

On our way to a lunch appointment and we saw this cool old Swedish church

This week was great.  It’s getting darker earlier and it's colder now.  Instead of getting dark at 2:00 am it’s getting dark about midnight. Winter is coming!  ~  And besides that, since I lost my wallet on the bus, we have been rationing food and been living off of super cheap top roman and eggs.  I love it when we get member meals! 
This is Sweden
Cool experience this week was one of our investigators was having problems with his mom about having missionary lessons and being religious in general.  He had to meet with us in secret or else he would get in trouble for meeting with us.  So, we were thinking a lot about what to teach him and how to help him.  This was our first time meeting him, but he’s met with missionaries before.  It was one of the most spiritual lessons that we have taught.  It seemed like we were saying everything he needed to hear and the spirit was so strong.  We really felt like he had been comforted after this.  We gave him another Book of Mormon because his mom hid the first one.  We will just keep being there for him and meeting with him just as friends and sharing our spirit until he is ready. 

It is sad here in Sweden because some parents are so against religion and yet they will let their kids do who knows what, but want them to have nothing with religion.   I have found that youth are much more open to hearing what we have to say than the adults are here.  The work is progressing and we are having a good time while doing it. 
Sister Lund is an unreal tennis player and I got destroyed.
One of our investigators took us to go play tennis and that was a great time.  Syster Lund and I played against each other and she destroyed me.  She is really good.
Great time!
It was really fun to play again!   Also, I went on splits for the first time and went to Jönköping with Elder Farnworth and we taught this man who is in a band here.  He found out that I play bass and so I played his bass and then he gave me one of his CDs and said "Come back after your mission and you can be in our band.  You can move into my apartment next door and we can jam on balconies across from each other.”  Haha.  We also went caving and hiking on P Day and that was awesome!  

We have an amazing Pianist\organist in our district, Äldste Harrison.  Syster Giles, who is serving in my area is an amazing singer and she will be famous someday.  That same day in Jönköping we went into a Swedish church in town and Syster Giles and I sang "Nearer My God to Thee" together in this massive cathedral with Äldste Harrison on the organ.  It was really fun and spiritual.  By far one of the biggest churches I have sung in.  The acoustics were amazing.  Tomorrow we have zone training in Göteborg and Syster Giles, Äldste Farnworth, and I are singing "I Need Thee Every Hour”, accompanied by Äldste Harrison.  Sounds beautiful.  On another musical note, (no pun intended) my companion and I are making some sweet hymn covers (new arrangements) of hymns on guitar and bass.  “Come Thou Fount”,  "If You Could High to Kolab”,  and “God Bless America”.   Fun stuff!  
If only I could just jump in and swim to our appointment 

We have some really good progressing investigators and we are really kicking it in gear here and working with less actives (there are a lot of those here) as well as doing a bunch of street contacting.  I love Borås and can’t wait to continue getting trained here! 
Äldste Blackburn
The group!
This cave wall tasted really good

More caving with min komrat
More cave selfies
Beautiful hike on top of the cave

Sweet Graffiti we found

More hiking

Eating lunch on top of a thooper (awesome mountain)
On our way to play some tennis with an investigator

The 5 Californians in the Göteborg zone on top of the mountain!
Waiting for our bus to go to Jönköping for the cave spelunking
More waiting for our bus

So much love

The view was amazing
On splits with Elder Farnworth and with our member friend

Look at this cute little guy! he loves to play with us

Monday, July 6, 2015

"An All American Boy"

More fourth of July fun!
Wow it’s been an amazing week!  The weather here has been really hot.  Like 27 degrees Celsius. (almost 80 degrees fahrenheit) Crazy for Sweden!  Hopefully I’m getting some of my tan and blonde hair back!  haha. 

Were the new models for "Euro Missionary Mall" (Just kidding)
We had some great lessons and some awesome contacts on the street this week!  Right now we are doing a lot of work with old investigators as well.  One cool contact we had was when we were walking down the cobble stone streets in Borås and there was a group of like 6 teenagers sitting on a bench and we looked at each other and said, “ Lets do this”.   So we went over there and introduced ourselves and started talking with them by asking them a simple question.  “What does family mean to you?" (in swedish of course) and that really got them talking.  We tied in how families are central to God’s plan for us and we went on from there and shared more.  They were so locked in to what we were saying as we talked with them for about 15 minutes (a long contact).  We ended up getting all of their numbers.  I love talking to teens because first of all they love Americans and second they are really open and have open ideas. 
Fourth of July the American way at an American's farm!

We also had a bomb 4th of July party at Brother Murphy’s farm.  He’s from Mississippi, is in the ward here in Borås and is the most American guy EVER.  There were Swedes at the party too and it was fun because we had a competition ~ "The Manliest Man" contest.  It consisted of:  fence post javelin throw, the tree trunk toss, the log throw, and longest Frisbee throw.  

There were about fifteen guys competing and it was about half Americans.  I ended up winning the Frisbee throw and there had to be an overall “winner” of the games and it was between me and 3 other Swedes.  The last "tie breaker" game was, who could throw an american football the farthest…  I didnt realize that Europeans have most likely never thrown a football in their LIFE (haha) so I ended up winning!  LOL  Great time with american food and stuff! 

The weather this next week should be cold and rainy.  Found an incredible deal on a bass guitar!  (Yes, approval from the President :)  It’s been so great learning hymns and such. Also, I’m glad I was able to ditch my "side pack" and get a Swedish back-pack.  Been crazy this last week trying to figure out the area, etc and the members live pretty spread out in the surrounding areas of the city.  We walk and take the bus most everywhere.  The ward is a decent size and they are good to us.  We are still very new to the area but getting better every day.  YES, this week has been amazing!  

Let me know of any other specific things you want me to include in these letters!  Love you all!
-Äldste Blackburn

Happy 4th!
Pledge of allegience


We LOVE chocolate!

The four Californians!

Casually eating watermelon while strolling down the street
The New acoustic bass <3

Always waiting for the bus!  Might as well take a sweet selfie.