Monday, August 31, 2015

Working hard, "interesting" people, a fast car, and several new investigators :)

District meeting in Jönköping and it is just pouring rain.
Is there really a need for this when its raining? haha
Well this week was full of finding cool people and working hard! 

A funny thing that happened was that I was on splits (splits is when you go with another companion in a different city than your assigned one) in Skövda last Thursday to Friday and we spent all day contacting and tracting.  Later that day we got a call from a number and he said he needed us to come to the church and talk to to him because he's struggling with some things. So we hurried over there, and as soon as we went inside he was talking to us and was depressed about a lot of things. He said he has heart problems, has been gay his whole life and a bunch of other things and how his life is ruined.  He said he had joined the church at 18 years old and that he hasn’t been to church in years.  So we talked, and listened were sincere and trying to let the spirit guide, but something didn’t feel right.  Before we left, we left him with a blessing and it was fairly short.  He then invited us over that evening with some friends to talk, and we said that’s possible.  We got his number and left.  

Soaking wet in Jönköping with the Skövda Elders
We felt really strange and called some past missionaries that had served in that area and they all said the same thing.  STAY AWAY and that he will invite you to his apartment and try to seduce you, and has inappropriate stuff all around the house and invites girls to try to seduce you as well.  I guess he’s been doing this for like 15 years and he does this with all the missionaries.  I find it so funny but annoying at the same time, because we have work to do and we were talking to him for 2 hours trying to honestly help him.  It's a funny experience that I will always look back on and laugh  about.  :D

Shopping for winter jackets :D (This one is just ridiculous)
On a more Spiritual note….  We have three new investigators this week! :D ….and get this... two of them are American!  haha  AND one of the names is Cody!  Cody is from San Diego and has lived here for years and has 3 kids here in Sweden.  He’s awesome and we’re starting to teach him.  We met him on the bus a few weeks ago.  The other American is Joe, (from Florida) and he has this super awesome Southern accent.  We have actually met him before.  He likes to drive the missionaries around because they helped their family move in long time ago.  So one day we were walking down the street, and he saw us while driving and he slammed on his breaks in traffic and said, “Are you guys Mormon missionaries?!" We said yes and he asked us if he could talk to us.  So he reversed in traffic and pulled off the side of the road and asked us if he could come to church!  haha  We realized he had driven us once before and then he asked us where we were going.  We said we had an appointment and he offered to drive us to our appointment and that was a blast.   He was showing us his American driving skills.  For example... He did a J-turn with us in the car which was awesome!  That is when you reverse really fast, and you crank the wheel hard then put it into drive really fast then continue on in drive.  So that was an adventure!  He came to church yesterday which was awesome and we are meeting with him next week. 

The other new investigator is Mikael.  He is Swedish and he came up to us while we were studying in the library and asked us if we are Americans. He is a poet and asked us to proof read his poem for any errors and it was about happiness. ~ It was about how the things of this world are not real happiness and that it’s families and relationships that matter.  We then brought up the gospel and shared a bit with him.  He said he feels like something is missing (in his life).   We then taught him about God’s plan (of happiness) for us and he was really receptive.  We will meet with him next week as well. 

The work is moving foward here in Borås!  Love you all!  and it’s good to hear from all of you! :)
Äldste Blackburn
They have the coolest old people here in Borås
People say not to judge a book by its cover,
but this one looks pretty crappy.. 
Look at this little guy! Yes, I did kiss it.. and no..
I didnt turn into a princess.

Missing my swimming days more ever than before..
Another cool shot of Göteborg
Typical day in Göteborg :) 
Found this cool bridge while tracting through the wilderness
Planking the cool bridge we found while tracting through the wilderness

"Theres only 8 weeks left to go Äldste Stoeltzing! dont jump!"

Monday, August 24, 2015

Never a dull moment for sure!!

This week has been pretty cool :)

America will always own my heart <3
It starts off with a cool contact that we had.  For all the people that like Star Wars, listen up!  So Äldste Stoeltzing and I were contacting in the park and came across two girls who we talked to and they said that they were Atheists and didnt believe that there was a God.   We were then just talking for a bit and we realized that one of the girls was wearing Star Wars shoes and she said she really likes Star Wars.  I thought of a really good quote from Darth Vader from the movie and then I said,  “Your lack of faith disturbs me.."  then she just started busting up laughing and said, "touche!”   We gave them pass along cards (a way to reach the missionaries) and left haha!  I thought I would never get an opportunity like that again.... so obviously I had to take advantage of that.. haha

We went to the Bishops house and he found out that Äldste Stoeltzing and I are musicians, and he took us downstairs into his basement and it was full of instruments!  There was an early edition Grand Steinweg piano straight out of Germany from the mid 1800s, banjo, guitars, a bass, and drums.  Needless to say, I played all of them and we had a good jam session. :)

Another crazy thing!!  Since Äldste Stoeltzing is our District leader, he assigns splits and he had a feeling that I should take the new greenie (A greenie is a new missionary) that just came in on his first splits.  At first I was a little apprehensive because I’m still new and so is my Swedish.... but it was so cool!  We contacted a lot here in Borås, tracted, even gave a blessing, and had a ward dinner and service all in one day!  God blesses his missionaries.  That is really what I needed ~ to be in a situation where I wouldn’t have anyone to fall back on for my Swedish, AND every contact we had turned into a lesson.  My Swedish was feeling strong and I could understand almost everything!  Confidence is the key.
Two greenies on an early morning run

Last cool story is with a non active (a member who does not attend church) in the ward.  He is a young 18 year old that was baptized last year who is super cool and still hangs with me and my comp every week.  He just has been distracted by some things.  Very talented guy.  So this last week we went to a fast food place called Maxs´ Burgers and we were eating together later that night.  He then ask us for a spiritual message (which is really unusual)…. We really started to dig deep into him and he opened right up!  He was telling us about some of his challenges and was really struggling. The spirit in this fast food place was so strong and he began to cry and get chills.  He was telling us how he KNOWS the book of Mormon is true and wants to come back to church, but his family hates religion. This guy had to wait a year to be baptized because his parents wouldnt allow it.  I then said " You have been given these talents to help people.   There are people waiting for you to come and help them and share the message of the restored Gospel”.   We talked about many more things but he came to the conclusion that he should go on a mission and now he’s been going to church and mission prep classes and will be going on lessons with me and my companion.  Awesome to see the progression of people and see them come to Christ and the blessings that they receive from that.
Mattias´ new handcrafted CTR ring caption

Jag älskar er! 
Äldste Blackburn
We got in a bus crash! I can check that one off my bucket list

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Service, Contacts, and Faith!

Hey Everybody!

Early morn on top the roof of our apt.
This last week has been really warm!  Lets hope this lasts.   Well this week was full of awesome contacts and interesting contacts.  It seems like every contact we had turned into a lesson which was awesome!  Äldste Stoeltzing and I are loving it here together and doing lots of service. This last week I got to put some of my construction experience to work (thanks to my Uncle David) and we tore apart this guys ceiling to put in some can lights. These houses are really old and what was weird was that the ceiling, walls, and floor was insulated by saw dust.  So when ever we cut into the ceiling, saw dust would then pour out into a bucket that we would hold up (or so we hoped).  We ended up just covered in saw dust and we took a long train home after that with saw dust down our pants. That always feels great :)  

Rare pic caught during a solo contact.  The sisters in front of me contacting a lady at the same time!
A few cool contacts was one of the pictures. (the one on the bus)  It was a solo contact that I had.  Then in front of me were the sisters contacting this other lady.  My companion snuck a picture.  She was super nice and she thought my Swedish accent sounded like I was from Denmark haha. We also ran into alot of athiests this week.  There was one really cool guy at a bus stop who asked us if were mormons and we then started talking to him. he respected everything we believed, then we started testifying to him and that brought the spirit right in.  He then began to really feel something, and looked like he was starting to cry.  He lives near us and that’s a bonus.  We will try to meet with him again. 

One hard contact we had this week was with a ex veteran who was drunk and it started out as him asking us for a lighter.  He then began to say “There is no God, only hell!" and that he served in the Iraq war and saw things and that made him believe that.  He then was being really disrespectful to us swearing and saying we dont know who God is and your wasting your time, etc.  THEN he started being disrespectful to Gods name and Christs name.  Thats where we drew the line and we testified to him that "God didn’t do this to you, and God didn’t do this to the people of Iraq, and that this message that we have is about happiness ~ Ever lasting happiness.  Knowing that you have a Father in Heaven that wants everyone of his children to return to him."  We couldn’t let him disrespect Gods name like that.  Shortly after, a man chimed in and said, “These two fools have a misconception of who God really is" and went on from there.  As he went on, we quickly realized the man was a Satanic, and Äldste Stoeltzing and I kept our composer but were SO full of the spirit at this point and were about to go "Alma and Amulek” on both of them.  (powerful missionaries in the Book of Mormon, see Alma chapters 8-9, and 12-14)  Then our bus came and we gave the Satanic man our card and told him to call us and we´ll see what happens.  It made me realize that no matter how much you know, testifying is always the best.  

This Gospel is so true, and Jesus Christ is here for you and all of us.  You just have to let him in….

Love you all!
Äldste Blackburn

P.S.  A dad of a friend of mine has just had two heart attacks and is in a critical situation.  If you can pray for him and his family and that would be great.  Thanks :)
Put your shoulder to the wheel push along!
Äldste Stoeltzings shoulders dont look like they can push for much longer

Play that funky music white missionary

Early morning swing session by our apartment

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Goodbyes, new adventures and tender mercies of the Lord.

We're all going to really miss this guy!
 The conflicting emotions of saying goodbye to Syster Giles  
This week, missionaries got transferred and went home (completed their missions).  We held a "funeral" for Äldste Farnworth at the church and it was super awesome!  We did it before our district meeting and it was full of musical numbers, obituaries, and all that good stuff that funerals have.  We saw him off and he will do awesome back in the states!  

Two other people in our district got transfered.  Syster Giles and Äldste Harrison.  They will both be missed.  Sister Giles is still in our zone so she’s not too far.  We have a new sister here in borås!  Syster Nielson.  She is from Oregon and she is a really good runner, health nut, and really hard working.  She is perfect for Syster Lund!  They are already doing great work together.  

Perks of working in a garden: Free salad and squash
We did some fun service this week.  Did some awesome work in a members garden and got some free salad and veggies.  Also went to another members house and went up on the roof of his horse stable and was sealing nail holes with silicone before winter comes.  This member family is awesome.  The dad is an American and his family made us american pancakes for breakfast with REAL syrup from Walmart!  

Missionary work was good this week too.  We have been going to a city called, Hässleholmen more to contact and tract.  This is more of a "ghettoish" part of town.  It is typically full of immigrants that are willing to listen (if they speak Swedish or English..).  They all have amazing stories of how or why they have immigrated here.  There are wars, fighting, death, religious persecutions that we don’t hear about as much back in the states but a lot of people I have noticed, flee to Sweden to get away from these things.  

Jag älskar min komrat så mycket!
We were in this town the other day contacting two mothers from Syria, and sharing about how families can be together forever and they were so interested!  Then there was a man above us in a balcony that joined in and we started teaching him from his balcony then we noticed there was another lady that was listening.  It was super cool.  This gospel is amazing and not just the hope it brings to people, but the knowledge of these things through reading the book of Mormon and praying about it.  

While being stranded, who says you cant take a sweet picture?
Another awesome experience we had this week was that we had a member dinner about two hours away and there was a transportation error with the buses.  So we ended up in a bad situation, stuck at a bus stop really far from our place and far from the members house.  There wasn’t another bus coming until the next day.  We were talking to our bus driver who was ending his shift to go back to his wife and two daughters about this, when he said..  “I will take you to your friends in my private car."

This man drove all four of us to this members house, out of his way from his family just to help us.  He didn’t want anything in return.  It was awesome because in the car ride we had an awesome conversation with him and he is interested in learning more about the gospel.  

I´m starting to see the tender mercies of the Lord everyday and realizing that he looks out for his missionaries.  He puts opportunities in front of all of us all the time!  We just need to open our eyes and be willing to act. 

Love you all!
Äldste Blackburn
All of us with Syster Giles on her last Sunday in Borås

Trampolines in the park? Yes Please!

Some people say Sweden isnt trashy.. 

Saying goodbye to Syster Giles before she moves to Kungsbacka

Äldste Farnfworths signature pose at the train station taking him Stockholm for his last day in Sweden

Getting some kebab pizza. (Kebab is the best food in this world!!)

The district at Äldste Farnworths "funeral"

Our district is skilled in many things... Ask us to make a pyramid.. We´ll give you a pyramid!

This pretty much describes our friendship (Farnworth and myself)

Bye buddy. I know I will always be in your hands :p
Farnworth's last selfie from inside the train

 Our first thought was "What is this mirror doing here in centrum?" Then we thought "It's so we can reflect on our week."  Then we thought "Our week looks dang good." :):)

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

A move, lots of lessons, an Island, and a castle...

All farm land on the Island... Just beautiful!!

Man this week was an adventure but I am SO tired!  

Preparing for the boat ride to Visingsö (it's an island)
I had the opportunity to do the last split with Äldste Farnworth before he goes home this Wednsday.  He’s a cool guy and it was really fun getting to know him. We have decided that we are going to start our own medical practice and be "Doctors Without Limits" in Africa when we finish school!  

So I went up to Jönköping again (with Äldste Farnworth) and we had a baptism there and also were able to travel to a local island to visit a family.  While I did this, my companion, Äldste Stoeltzing went up to Stockholm for a trainers conference so we are both pretty tired!  

In addition to that, we had to do a quick emergency move for the sisters in Borås because there are some creeps in there apartment complex.  So we are living there now (the Sisters are living in our old apartment complex across town) and it is a lot smaller, but as long as the sisters are safe, we are happy.  

Teaching Mattias to tie a tie.
On a sad note, transfers are here and we are losing Sister Giles! :(  but we are getting a new sister here on Wednesday.  She will be pretty cool too.  

On a spiritual note, yesterday was amazing!  Mattias came to church (the one with the baptismal date) and he said he was feeling down all week and just troubled.  We gave him a blessing and I think it really helped him.  After that in Sacrament meeting, Sister Giles and I sang “Be Still My Soul" and that song is really about relying on the Savior and remembering that your are not alone and to tell your self that you will be ok.  Mattias really needed that.  

Really miss swimming at this moment

I am also practicing translating the language in Sacrament meeting and it is getting much better.  I am starting to see more progression now.  It's just hard sometimes to not get frustrated but I've come to realize that it just takes time and that's ok. 
Love you all!
Äldste Blackburn

These play grounds have zip lines!

Down the steets of Jönköping
Äldste Farnsworth is a cool guy

Climbing the wall to get to the castle on the Island

Exploration time!

Going under!
Old prison cells
Old Swedish Castle

Dinner with a member on the island
Tunnel of trees on the way to dinner

Jönköping Sisters and Elder

"Meanwhile in Europe"

Cool Royal Swedish church and cemetery 

"Watch out for Reindeer" (around the whole island)
Frolicking through the feilds