Monday, February 29, 2016

Transfers!! I'm traveling by boat! :)

Tjena tjena! 

Well... Every six weeks there are "transfer calls" and you find out if you will be staying with the companion and in the city you are in or leaving and getting a new companion.  This last Saturday was the routine time for the call AND....After 6 months here in Uppsala, Sweden.. I am getting transferred!!! 

What’s crazy is that I’m actually getting transferred off of the mainland of Sweden onto an island!  There is only one area in this mission that is an island and it’s called Gotland, and the city is Visby.  I will be taking a boat there on Wednesday morning where I will meet my companion. There are only two missionaries on Gotland island and it will be me and my companion.  There is also one senior missionary couple there with us.  My companion and I will have car!  I’m so done with buses and trains.. haha 
I hear it is very wet, windy, and there are TONS of caves. P days will be pretty fun.  It is also one of the oldest cultures in Scandinavia. They have a lot of Medieval stuff there like castle ruins and festivals and things like that.  It’s known as a great vacationing place so there will be a lot of tourists!  

The water is ready. Who wants to be baptized? 
The only annoying thing is that I have to make sure my suitcases are under a certain weight so I can take them on the boat.  I’ll have to go through what I "need" and dont "need”.  We will take a boat back to the mainland for conferences and such, but for other little meetings we have to be skyped in.  That will be a party!  Stay in tuned for that :)

Early morning run... Frozen lake.
I’m feeling ready to leave Uppsala now.  I was thinking earlier this week about when I first came here I was still so new on my mission and now I’m coming up on a year!  Time flies.  I have seen so many miracles since I have been here in this beautiful city.  Experienced many miracles with Elder Bentson (and Bailey).  I also want to shout out to Elder Bailey!  He is transferring up to Umeå (way up north) to be a Zone Leader.  He will kill it, but Elder Bentson and I have had a good time together and kills me to say goodbye because we have become best friends.  It doesn’t matter that he is 18 and I am 21.  We are out here for the same purpose and that is to invite people to come to Christ and serve our Savior.  We will both carry on with that purpose in our different cities and will stay in touch.  It’s been a blessing to train him and help him at the beginning of his mission. 

I will always remember several people here in Uppsala, and one of those being Caroline. Working with her from the beginning and seeing her step into the waters of Baptism has just been amazing.  We will always stay in contact as well.  I said goodbye to the ward (Uppsala church congregation) yesterday and got some pics with different people.  I gave my “farewell testimony" and sang a final song (Come Thou Fount).  Sister Johanson will be actually going home now!  She has served a really awesome 18 months here in Sweden and it has been fun getting to know her these past 6 weeks! 

But anyways, I will send some cool pics next week of me saying goodbye to people and then off to Gotland!  In the mean time... 
Have a good week! 

Äldste Blackburn

I want to live in the famous pink castle in Uppsala someday. I just need to become a Swedish politician.
Morning run on this awesome frozen lake!
I swear.. they have the coolest parks here.
P-day hike!
Stacking some wood for the Hammar family!
Elder Bentson catching up on our morning runs.

Julia Hammar! Just eating dinner at there house for the last sunday in Uppsala!
These are the 4 planners I have used here in Uppsala! It's been a good 6 months

I dont even know what we were looking at. Maybe Elder Bentson was doing something weird again haha.
Bishop Gleissman! He is so energetic and is such a good bishop! Super nice guy and I will miss him!

Torsten! Im going to miss this man! He is the nicest guy and was like my grandpa away from home!
Fredrik! This guy is crazy. He is always helping us out as missionaries and is the most random and funny guy you meet. He wanted another picture with the ladies room in the back ground. haha

Even and Gabriella! the most hipster Norwegian and Swedish couple you will meet. <3
Björn and Evelin. He is one of our bishops counselors and his wife from the Philippines. They are cool people.

Tore and Halvard! 
Shaq is a cool kid, and is a baller. Lives up to his name for sure! 

Fontana from Bloivia! Hes an awesome guy.
Benjamin and Alice Schmuck from Austria! Two of the chillest people you will meet! 

I never thought in my life that i would play "Magic.." but when you have a 14 year old boy in your ward that changes things.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Don't underestimate the power of air freshener!!

Tjena Tjena! 

Sledding last P day. Elder Bentsons hair is legit frozen! haha
I have had a another one of those busy weeks!  We did start  off with something awesome.  We totally went sledding!  There is this awesome massive hill by our house so we went sledding with the sisters (missionaries). They all were making fun of me because I’m a "California" boy and have "never sledded before" haha.  Which actually is true.  The only time I go up to the snow is to Snowboard... no wasting time with that sledding business. :)  But it showed... I was pretty bad at sledding haha!  So that was fun.  

Sledding with the crew last Monday!
There were some cool snow storms this week.  We were out in a few of them and that wasn’t as fun, but at least it’s not super dang cold any more.

So... kind of a funny thing happened this week with Elder Bentson and me.  We were at church on Sunday and got a call from this girl saying she is with her school and is wanting to visit our church with some friends to ask us questions for a project that they were doing.  Since I have been here in Uppsala I have done this same thing like four other times. They are all theology students and they have the same typical questions ~  “Why do you believe in this?” "What are the differences of how men and woman are seen in your church?"... and so on.  So we set up an appointment with her for the next week.  We would just show them around the church and then answer their questions.  The day came and we got to the church a little early to make sure everything was good and prepared.  We walked in and it smelled like a rotting fish.  Horrible smell!  We spent a while trying to find it, and finally did!  We threw it out but that didn’t eliminate the smell.  The whole church smelled super bad!  We found some of that "good smell" spray stuff and sprayed that bad boy all around the church.  It smelled like "Sparkling Citrus" by Air Wick.  Very good smell... I recommend it.  BUT ANYWAYS,  We were sitting waiting for them to come and we saw these three girls walk in, and lets just say they were probably expecting two over weight 40 year old dudes, and not an 18 and 21 year old from the USA.  They were pleasantly surprised!  haha,  So we showed them around the church and then sat down to answer their questions and they asked all the typical ones.  We taught them about the Book of Mormon and the Restoration.  We gave them each Books of Mormon and they said they would read them.  We will see how that goes.  It’s always fun teaching young people.  I will miss this place! 

Killin it with Lloyd at the Stockholm Temple for the first time!
De tre kompisar (The three buddies)
We are finally here!
Selfie on selfie
We went to a training in Stockholm for all the missionaries in our Zone.  I sang a song with three other awesome missionaries.  We were there all day and decided to stay in Stockholm for a a few hours after and cut our P-day down a few hours today.  We went and explored Gamla Stockholm (old town), and the city.  Good times!  We then went to Stockholm AGAIN to attend the temple on Saturday.  That was a blast.  First time for me an Elder Bentson in Sweden!  We got to go with our ward and Lloyd.  He is a new member and has one of the strongest testimonies I know!  He’s a real good friend.  He’s going to be moving to study at BYU Idaho next year so watch out ladies!  Caroline was unable to go unfortunately because some things came up, but it’s looking like it will happen soon. :)  

This is my last week with Elder Bentson in Uppsala!  It’s been a good 6 months here and a awesome 12 weeks with elder Bentson. He is an awesome missionary and it has been so cool to see his progress and help him along the way. Stay tuned.. we’re going to go so hard this week.. 

Love you all! 
Äldste Blackburn
Totally ran into Sister Nielson in Västerhaninge
coming home from the Temple! 

Look at this sick rock wall we found! 
The city of Stockholm! 
Cool ice sculptures in Uppsala!
Down in Stockholm T-Banna to take us to Stockholm Central to then take us home!
Walking down the streets of Stockholm
The things we find in Stockholm.
If you havent gotten it.. pretty much every picture with tiny streets is gamla Stockholm haha
Gamla (old) Stockholm

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Winter is definitely not over!! Mycket mer snö!

Hey Everybody! 
Mycket mer snö!

Winter is definitely not over!!  We just got quite a bit of snow and it’s nice and cold again!  A lot happened this last week, but there was the funniest thing I wanted to share!
Happy Alla Hjärtans Dag! (Kind of like Valentines day)
We got a call last Sunday from this girl saying she has an Italian man with her that goes around our city and preaches and needs a place to stay.  She said that he had a friend from the states that said our church can do that.  I talked to her for a bit and told her the Bishop would have more information about this and I happened to be with him so I gave him the phone.  They talked for a while surprisingly and he gave the phone back to me.  The Bishop told her that we can ask around and see if anything is available, but we don’t generally have resources to let people do that or let people sleep in the church.  Bishop told us to set up a meeting with them though and to bring up the Gospel and maybe teach them something.  So we set up a meeting with the girl and the Italian preacher guy over the phone two days from then.
Ya this road was as long as it looks... had to walk all the way to the end! But it was pretty so its ok  
We decided to have real American BBQ behind the church, and yes I'm trying to get a patty out that I dropped on the coals..

Little mansion village at the end of the road.
When I hung up the phone I was thinking, who this guy could be...  THEN I REMEMBERED!  I thought there is this Italian guy here in Uppsala that goes around and interrupts our lessons with people telling us "we will be damned" and “we're going to hell."  He has done this a few times and also approaches us agressivly asking, “Do you think you are going to heaven?"  and we will say... "Yes" and then he will say “No your going to hell!!!!" and we said.. “No...pretty sure you dont have the authority to tell us that.. haha”  He goes around saying he’s a "prophet" and has even been arrested a few times. He is not mentally there.  SO!  As the story goes on.. We meet this guy and girl that called us (she’s not mentally there either) at the church with a member.  We listened to them for a bit and everything he was saying was just yelling and aggressive. It was getting on my nerves!  But still being patient.. we sat and waited for an opportunity to say something and bring up the gospel.
A cute Pintrest pic for you all.

Who wants to be saved?
 So the time came when we spoke and shared our message and a little about us.  It did not matter what we said.  He would just go off yelling and get way off subject.  It was kind of hopeless and then he was saying things about our church and "warning" us about different things and that’s kind of when we had enough!  Elder Bentson and I were testifying hard and the Spirit in that room was so strong and it left them silent! …. At the end, we shared our testimony which is how THIS is a Gospel of happiness, love, and  salvation... not of "damnation" and "hell.”  I swear.. he said those two words more than he said God.  It was sure fun though! 
Last P-day was a great day of exploration! 
We have also been working with a person lately that has caused some heart ache and stress, but I have come to a conclusion. I can not let another persons testimony or view on this Gospel affect mine.  It’s not like I’m brainwashed, forced to be out here, or getting paid, or whatever.  I freely choose to sacrifice two years of my life because I KNOW it is true.
Thinking about taking a nice refreshing Swim! 

Some people are like “How can you know?  You don’t have "evidence."  I actually do have evidence.  Evidence is something that will convince you (deep in your heart) without a doubt.  It doesn't have to be a "physical fact.”  You receive that evidence when you read the Book of Mormon, when you sincerly pray about it, and when you ACT upon it.  It will become something you can’t deny. Trust me on this one.. It’s something I've thought about a lot.  I have talked to more theologists here in Uppsala then I have in my entire life.  The most important thing to me is the knowledge that I have of the gospel, and choosing to exercise and ACT upon that knowledge.

Äldste Blackburn
Winter is totally not over. It's nice and Snowy again!

Super sick frozen lake! 

Definitely not thick enough to walk on though.
If you can't tell, this is the craziest man in the world in the ice/water. We looked over and saw this man wearing a swimsuit and he walked down the ladder into the water and bobbed his body up and down for a few minutes haha!

The famous Surströmming... I will be eating this bad boy in a few months from now. Straight up rotten nasty fish in a sense. Stay tuned for an awesome video!

These are the cutest dwarf horsies!