Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Hej vänner! Jag har haft annan stor vecka

Tjena kompisar! 

This week was another one of those crazy travel weeks here for us.  Pretty much consisted of an awesome P day, travel to Stockholm to a conference, travel back to Gotland, and then going ham with talking to people and finding new people to teach!  

To start this off, we had one heck of a P day on Monday!  My companion and I traveled with President Madden and went to the South part of Gotland Island to do some exploration.  It is full of super old viking ruins, big cliffs, and beautiful surf.  Also with an added factor of crazy wind!  There are so many hidden treasures here on this island... and that is actually true!  I’m talking about discovering so many little things that you just learn about every day.  You can literally go into any Forrest and see a bunch of Viking ruins that have been almost untouched or not well known.  SO that was a fun adventure! 
Super old Viking boat grave
We had to take the boat to the mainland on Tuesday.  We slept at some other missionaries apartment and then went to a conference the next morning.  After the conference Äldste Scott and me split up and we went and worked with the zone leaders. Fun day!  Then we took the late boat and got back to Gotland after midnight.  Traveling like that really takes a tole on our work for the week because we were gone for a few days.  So Äldste Scott and I decided that our focus the last half of he week would be on rebuilding our teaching pool and we spent most of our time finding and talking to people.  We have several new people that are interested and that we are teaching now!  This place is tough for that though....  
Playing some dudes guitar that we talked to on on the street
The people here are mostly tourists, or old Swedish people that hate church. haha  BUT, this last week was different!  We found some good people and we are excited to see where it goes.  You get the funniest people and stories talking to people on the street. You talk to people on drugs, or other illegal substances and all that fun stuff!  There was this one lady that I was about to talk to. I had a Book of Mormon in my hand and was about to open my mouth to talk to her.  She then looked at me with so much energy and a squeeled "Ohhhhhh!!! I will take the book!!" and grabbed it out of my hand and was starting to walk away!  She just wasn’t 'all there' haha, but we talked with her for a little bit and we left her with a Book of Mormon.  Fun time!
That was pretty much this week in a nuthell. Next weekened is a special holiday here in Sweden and its called Valborg. It’s actually the weekend of Stake conference which we will be going to as well!  I will be singing with three other missionaries at the meeting, so I’m pumped for that as well. 

Love you all and hope you have a good week!
Äldste Blackburn

Hey do you want to here the message of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ little buddy?

Ya.. thats what I thought.. 
I heard this hand carved cross goes all the way back to 800 AD. This right here is one of the oldest church on Gotland that is still standing.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Australian companion, Service, and a Ukulele "Mate"

Äldste Scott and Me :)
So this week was a big change!  I had a good few last days with Äldste Jämsä the beginning of the week.  He had the chance to say goodbye to people and some different cool families.  We also did some service!  Since winter is over and there are no more icy roads, it is a law to change your tires from winter studs back to summer tires, so we did that for a member earlier this week and that was fun!  Time came on Tuesday night which we had a good last night together while he was finishing packing and getting his suff together.  The next morning, we got up and President Madden came to pick us up to take Äldste Jämsä to the boat to take him back to Sweden’s mainland.  He picked us up at about 7:00am and we were on our way!  We dropped him off and that was that!  

I had a good majority of the day with President and Sister Madden waiting for Äldste Scott to come in on the next boat about 3:30pm.  So I was sitting and kind of board for a bit….  when I saw sister Madden crocheting…. She is super talented and was making this awesome dress for her granddaughter.  I asked if crocheting is hard.. and she said not hard, and then I spent the rest of the time crocheting haha!  She taught me how to do it and I am in the process of making a tie!  I will show you the product next week if it is done!  I never imagined my self crocheting but a hand made tie would be pretty sweet!

We picked up Äldste Scott and by the end of the first night we were best friends! haha  We really get along well and he knows how to find the fun in missionary work while still working hard. That is needed in a place like Gotland!  So I’m super excited for this transfer.  We have set some good goals and things we are working towards.  I figured the best way to get a new companion settled into a new area is to do some really good service….  and by "really good" I actually mean really disgusting….  His second day we drove to a persons house we work with to clean for them but their house was very interesting.  Almost everything had a nice coated layer of cat hair and gunk made up of who know what on it and probably hadn't been cleaned for a year.  SO, we cleaned that mess.  We really should have burned it, BUT cleaning builds character.  We also changed some winter tires to summer tires for another member as well.
The first week of a transfer is always slower with work because it’s a lot of transfer time and your new companion is getting settled in and learning the area and people.  So by the end of this week we decided to go out on Sunday morning and just went hard with talking to people.  We split up and talked to people on the streets and had some really good lessons with people!  We also had this class this last week that the Stake is doing for the members. (Several “Wards” or congregations make up a “Stake”)  It’s a self reliance program and helps a person become self reliant in teaching them how to find jobs and such.  It’s a very good tool for our new member friends looking for jobs and how to live in Sweden.  We will start teaching them Swedish this next week and it will be good.  A lot of time this last week was spent doing that.  

Yesterday we also went to an investigators house for her birthday.  We went with a member who we are really good friends with. They wanted me to bring my ukulele (mandolen) so that we could play together too.  So we got there and it was a little party!  We talked to everyone and they all really liked me and my new Australian companion Äldste Scott haha.  The time came when we played some music and there were several musicians there.  We sang and played songs and then left a really good spiritual message with them.  Everyone there were Christians and all had a strong belief in God, so we thought we would share something that we could all relate to. ~ There is a scripture in Mosiah 2:17 in the Book of Mormon and it talks about how when we are in the service of our fellow men, we are in the service of our God.  There are so many people in need.  Families that are split up and flee to other countries to get away from death and war.  This really is just a phase in their lives.  It doesn't make them who they are.  I want to let you all know that I am doing as much as I can to help these people in every way possible as a missionary. And in return, they are grateful, and our Heavenly Father is grateful. 

Love you all and have a good week!
Äldste Blackburn

Beauty and serenity...

Huge Ham radio station of one of the members

Monday, April 11, 2016

Transfer time!! I'm staying on the Island and getting a new companion.

My home!
Hallå där! 

Äldste Jämsä, packing up!
So transfer timeeeeeeee!  My companion, Äldste Jämsä, will be leaving the island after 4 months here and will be transferring to a city called, Västerås.  It’s actually pretty close to Uppsala, my old city I served in.  I will be staying here!  In Äldste Jämsäs place, I get my first companion that is NOT from Utah, California, or even America for that matter.. He is an Australian!  For those of you who really know me, I just love Australians and love there accents, so I’m pretty stoked.  His name is Äldste Scott.  Äldste Jämsä will be leaving Gotland on Wednesday morning, taking the morning boat to the mainland.  I will stay with the Senior couple all day until my new Autrailian friend comes in at the boat station here in Gotland at about 4:00ish.  It’s going to be fun!  I have had an awesome 6 weeks here in Gotland and this will forever be the coolest dang place.  Äldste Jämsä will be missed. We did some good things together this last transfer and will work hard these last two days.  Best of luck to him in Västerås!

Yes, it was as good as it looks!
Nice little Viking village!
BUT!  We had some fun and cool things happen this week.  Monday was a fun P day.  We went to this place where we could jam and make music for free.  It was super nice and we made some recordings and stuff.  Fun fact ~ Visby, Gotland (the city where I live on Gotland) has the biggest ice cream shop in Europe with over 300 flavors of ice cream and Italian ice cream stuff or what ever it is called!!  It just re-opened after being closed for winter and decided we needed to give it a try and see for ourselves how big it was.. You know.. we had to see!  So... turns out it was pretty dang big and it really is the biggest ice cream shop in Europe and it tastes really good too haha.  Side-note, the owner is in the process of building one in Southern California to try to make it the biggest shop in America, so get ready for that!  So that was good.  Then President Madden (the president over the branch here in Gotland) decided to take all of us to the ice cream shop.  “All of us”, meaning as many new members and their families that could make it. So that was a party!   
Saying goodbye to Sadeq

Some sad news. If you remember Sadeq, He was the one that was supposed to be baptized this last weekend.  He ended up flying  and moving to Germany because of some immigration problems.  He might be sent back to Iran which is really bad, but the church's refugee program here in Europe is in the process of helping him.  He could really use some prayers. 

We finally had some visitors this last week from the Mainland of Sweden!  Our truly beloved Zone Leaders in Stockholm.  Äldste Bradshaw and Äldste Johnson.  I had the opportunity to go on splits with Äldste Bradshaw and I learned a lot from him.  He is super good at speaking Swedish and gave me a lot of good tips and help.  He will actually be the next assistant to the the president for this next transfer and will do awesome!

One thing I have been studying a lot this last week are the similarities between the Book of Mormon and the Bible.  I have made it a goal for myself to read the Swedish Bible and Swedish Book of Mormon all the way through before the end of my mission.  I’m starting to see how much it is helping me.  I read a scripture in Mormon 7:8-9, and if you don’t get a chance to read it, it’s talking about the Bible and the Book of Mormon and how they stand as witnesses of each other.  You will understand one as you come to understand the other and they are of equal importance, both testifying of Christ.  I am seeing this happen with me in my own understanding and also seeing how God has acted and done things from the beginning of time, all the way to present day.  God is unchanging. 

Love you all and have a good week! '
p.s. If you want to send me any mail or love my address is:
Äldste Bradshaw and I working the streets of Visby! 

182 46 Enebyberg 

Äldste Blackburn
Old Viking meeting house!
Our neighborhood

Our morning exercises at the play ground.  We do whatever works, ha ha.

Driving through the city.

More of the city of Visby.

Äldste Bradshaw majestically
looking off into the sunset.

Having fun playing and recording
on our Prep day.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Surveys, Sunshine and the Restoration!

So this last week has been better!  No more sickness!! :)

Some fun wholesome P-day activities.
Äldste Jämsä and I set some good goals to get back into the full swing of things again. The sun was so bright and beautiful this last week, we decided to get out of the car and ride our bikes and walk around more.  We set a certain amount of time every day to go talk to people on our bikes!  I can finally see a little tan coming back to my post Sweden winter white skin, ha ha.  So thats a good thing, and we are also getting some good exercise.  We have found some good success doing that actually!  When we talk to people, we go up and ask them a specific question.  This last week we tried something different.  We started out by saying we are doing a survey.. I know.. sneeky.. hehe, BUT most people get turned off if you start off with religion, and saying you are a missionary for your opener.  So we asked them if we could ask them a question for the survey.  They will say yes! (hopefully) We then ask... (in Swedish because we are in Sweden:) ) "If you were to die tomorrow.. what would you do on your last day on earth?”  Usually they respond with something like, "spend it with my family!" or "just have as much fun as possible!"  We can usually figure out how to apply it to the Gospel and tie our message in for them.  There was one man last week that we did this with.  We asked him the question.. and he responded with, "I would plant a tree." We were so ready to bring up the Tree of Life but he was in a hurry, haha, so we couldnt go there… That was pretty fun!   Taught a lot of good street lessons this week.
Another cool thing this week is that we went to a city called Hemse.  It’s about a 45 minute drive from Visby.  We were going to swing by some people that lived there.  Elder Jämsä then remembered there was a guy that he had given a Book of Mormon to last month before I came to the island but was never taught who lives in this city.  We decided to drive to his house and see how he is doing.  We got there and then went up to his apartment door.  He answered the door and was happy too see us!  They tried setting up meetings before but it never worked out with conflicting schedules.  He let us in and we got to know him a bit.  Super cool Swedish guy, and his name is Per.  We then taught him about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It was going very well and I felt super strong impression to give him an invitation to be baptized on a certain date if he knows what we are teaching him is true by that time.  We explain to him that, he will come to know it is true by reading the Book of Mormon, praying, and searching for himself.  Takes action!  He said "Ok! I just need to get my calendar!"  We taught him how to pray and gave him a chapter to read in the Book of Mormon.  He was super positive!  We called him a few days later to see how things were going with the Book of Mormon and with his prayers.  He said he really felt something spiritual, and it felt really good!  We talked to him about that for a while and then invited him to watch General Conference.  He couldn’t get to Visby for the weekend so he watched it at home and he said he really liked it, thought it was very interesting and was just really impressed.  We will be meeting with him tomorrow to teach him another lesson! 

Watching some General Conference in our Sacrament room with  two Persian and Arabic speaking new members. They have There own language translation while we are watching it on the big screen.
We were scheduled to have our friend Sadegh baptized this last weekend but there have been some problems that have come up with migration and he might be flying to Germany on Wednesday.  We will see, but we are doing all we can do as missionaries!
I really loved General Conference.  It is so cool to see how much this Church has been built and grown since the restoration.  One thing I have been thinking about is, the restoration HAS happened.  It’s here, and what am I doing to help it.  I am either helping it... or blocking it.. or holding it back.  (Where are we in our lives?)

Love you all and have a good week!
Äldste Blackburn
Look at all those supporters! 
Winter is OVERRRR! Time to switch out the winter studded tires
to the racing drifting tires. :) (Just kidding about the racing
and drifting btw) haha

Minnie Golf on the Beach!

Hey guys! This is our kitchen and we were just wanting to
practice our selfie skills!  (Yes, they are still boys having fun. :) )

Wild horsies!