Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Never a dull moment!

Hur står det till?!
Hey guys! Our new mission car just came in. Pretty bad gas mileage tho.. But I guess it will work.  

So this week was nice.  I would say I probably met the weirdest man in my life a few days ago. There is a man that has been meeting with the missionaries for a few years.  We called him up to see if he wanted to set up an appointment.  Even on the phone as we were hanging up we could tell how odd he was…. haha   As we were hanging up.. he said "puss och kram" which is a swedish phrase for "hugs and kisses” in english.

His "museum"
His outdoor display
So things were looking positive!  He actually lives near the top of Gotland Island, so it took a while to get there.  He never gave us an address and just told us to drive to a church in specific city and then he would call and guide us to his house.  So that’s what we did!  We drove there with President Madden (our branch president and senior missionary here) and he then guided us to his home.  Our thought that he was a bit odd was confirmed when we saw a 50 year old man standing in the middle of the street wearing bright colored womans yoga pants with big furry wool socks.  He also had a very bright colored shirt that seemed to be a womans as well and he even had a pair of white headphones around his neck for an extra piece of style. haha!  We drove in and saw this house that looked like it was falling apart.  We got out the car and he gave us all hugs and said he wanted to show us something. (He smelled like alcohol.. but there was something else a bit off...) so he took us around his property showing us the art he made.  He even set it up like a little show room!  He really likes the dark, scary and not super appropriate art haha. So after the out side show case, he took us back into his “museum.”  There was a little shed with a bunch of his art in it.  He went on to tell us all about them and told us that he doesn’t sell his art and that it goes in his museum.  We walked in and then we walked out not long after we walked in haha!  It was pretty weird.. and a bit scary!  

So after that we were walking into his house to teach him a lesson and talk to him about the gospel.  We went in and it was just as scary and weird…. Not going into too much detail, I’ll just say that I had to move a bunch of creepy porcelain dolls off the couch before I could sit down.  We started talking and quickly realized he was too gone in the head to teach or have a normal conversation so we ended the lesson and closed with a prayer.  We then grabbed our things to leave and he told us to wait and he left the room and said he wanted to play us a song.  He came back in the room with a guitar, played us a song on his guitar and sang to us. haha  It actually wasn’t that bad of a song, but after that we got up and left his house and said goodbye to him.  He gave us one more hug and said "puss och kram!" again (hugs and kisses).. and then we got in the car and drove away thinking that was super weird. And that was that!  

Singing "Oh My Father"
in Sacrament meeting
That kind of stuff happens in the country side of Gotland... But the rest of the week was more of the usual stuff.  A lot of talking to people and teaching people.  There was one guy we had a long talk with on the street the other day and it was all about how he thinks religion takes the rights away of people with the rules we follow specifically in the church.  What’s hilarious is that is totally not even an argument if you think about it.  First things first ~ We dont force people to be a member of our church. We invite people to search for themselves to find the truth.  That includes testing the commandments we follow to see if they will receive the promises that come with those from God.  What’s important to remember is that we don’t make these rules.  They are given by God.  God has given us something call "free agency” and that is for us to choose what we want in life.  That is how we can grow and that is how we can learn. People can choose to follow these rules, or not.  God will never force anyone to follow Him and his teachings, other wise there would be no growth….  But I can promise you that I have felt the blessings of following the teachings of Jesus Christ/this church, as well as millions of other members around the world, and it’s not something I have just accepted… It’s something I have prayerfully thought about and lived.  I have seen obvious blessing in my life because of following them and I know they come from God. 

Ha det så gött!
Äldste Blackburn
Looking for some fossilized shells dating back to the ice age
Look at all those Ferraris, Mclarens, and Masratis! 
Look at that Hyundai man! But the Ferrari is ruining the picture.. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

STILL tasting and smelling like surströmming!!

Hallå där vänner! 

Så this week has been gross... and full of talking to people, and adventure! 
So, last monday was when I ate surströmming which was horrible, but it had to be done!  No other options!  So after that I felt super sick that night, and for the next few days I had the taste still in my mouth. Good times!  It was a good experience for sure!  The week went on and we had some good lessons set up with some different people we teach, but something has been happening here that is scaring people from becoming a Christian.  I won't talk about it too much, but right now it's a little too dangerous for them to be taught at this point.  SO we are taking it easy with them and staying low key with that.  

The week turned into talking to a bunch of people on the street and finding people that are interested to be taught and learning more about Christ.  Most people we talk to are tourists so it's tough in that aspect here on Gotland because they are just on vacation and don't live here so we do what we can! 

A cool thing happened...  I just heard from my friend in the mission, Äldste Carlson, that he talked to a guy on the street in his area in Sweden who had just been here in Visby and remembered me and my name!  haha   I actually had the opportunity to teach him about the Book of Mormon and give him one, and now he is in contact with missionaries on the mainland!  So it does pays off even if it doesn't feel like it sometimes. :)

The guys teaching me some Persian
We just had transfer calls and Äldste Scott and I were wanting to stay together for another 6 weeks and we are!  6 more weeks on Gotland with Äldste Scott and we are going to really work! 
We have a new guy we are teaching.  His name is Abdel and he is only 17 and is from Africa.  He speaks French and Swedish and is a real cool dude.  He has been alone for 9 years moving around trying to find peace and a good life while his family is still in Africa with a war going on. 
We also had some fun with some new members and there families this last Saturday.  We drove up to Fårö for a branch activity of sorts for part of the day.  It was really fun and they all enjoyed it.  We left a good spiritual message with them and played general conference in Persian during the car ride haha. That was the second time I have been to Fårö and it is so pretty and so secluded.  The massive rocks and cliffs are awesome!

Then on Sunday I spoke in Sacrament meeting, and I talked about how each and every one of us are children of God, and how that is and should be our first identity.  I used the talk by Elder Donal Hallstrom from this last conference.  I thought it was really cool because he talks about how that belief is something we just accept in the church, but maybe not think about it as much as we need to.  If we really think about what that means and understand the potential that we have, as well as the help available for us, we would be so strong in times of trials and receive more guidance and love from Him .... just like a parent here on Earth. 

I'm going to take off now!  Have a good week everyone!
Äldste Blackburn 

tjena killar och tjejer!

This week has been very productive.  I just want to start by saying I hit my year mark on my mission this last Friday.. (May 13th) so that meant a few things needed to be done. The first thing is that I needed to burn a shirt.  That is a tradition for all missionaries.  So we made a little fire on the beach and burned that bad boy.  It felt good!  Next was a personal thing I wanted to do... eat Surströmming.
Practicing my Boy Scout skills.

 For those of you that don't know what that is.. It basically is just rotten, fermented Herring (fish) Its canned..rotten..and smells like death haha. "Surströmming" in English litteraly means "sour herring" haha!  A classic swedish delicacy but know to be one of the worlds nastiest foods. So I decided to take it upon my self toeat a whole fish (which didn't end up happening).  Your supposed to eat in on bread with potato, tomato, and A LOT of seasonings with a little bit on top of it, BUT I wanted to take a bite right out of the fish its self which probably wasn't the best idea haha.  If you are interesting in watching my attempt at eating Surströmming.. I'm sending a video to my mom, and she will post it on face book or something.  I can say that was the grossest thing I have had in my whole life and I will smell like surströmming for about three days before it starts to fade away!  haha I might just want to go back to that beach and burn all my clothes!! 

What was fun is that we had some Elders come from the mainland for the weekend to do some work with us so we had some company!  Every transfer the district leader and zone leaders trade off with coming here and this transfer it was the district leaders turn.  Elder Backman and Elder Muirhead!  None of them tried surströmming before either, so they both tried a little piece and then it was Elder Scotts (my companion) turn!  He threw up pretty bad too haha! But is was a good P day :) 

But last p day had to do a lot with fish too actually. We spent the day fishing again and got some good sun burns which turned into some little sun tans trying to get my back to my California self. We also had a lesson with two guys on Monday and they are both refugees from Afghanistan, and are wanting to learn more about Christ. So we taught them with one of our translators on the phone and they want to be baptized! So we will be working with them and have worked with them this last week. 

The next day we actually went to Stockholm for a special Zone training with President and Sister Beckstrand (our mission president) and the assistants.  It was a really good training and i picked up an awesome package full of treats from home (shout out to my mom and family!). 
Then the rest of the week was just teaching some different investigators and finding people! Its also been super rainy and cold here these last several days. But the sun isnt setting until after 9 pm which is cool!
Something I was thinking about this last week was about these refugees and how they are scared to become a Christian.  It is understandable and it can be dangerous if it's in the wrong situation and we are completely aware about that.  If they don't feel comfortable being taught, or if we feel strange about the situation, then we will not teach them.   One thing I do believe, is miracles happen and how faith in God and in His Son, Jesus Christ gives us strength and guidance.  There is a scripture I thought of when thinking about this.  In 1 Nephi 3:7,  it pretty much says how the Lord will provide a way if he asks us to do something.  He is not going to leave us stranded if we are trying to come to him and He will be there to support us and give us what we need to accomplish His will.  It's all about having the faith and exercising the faith that he can do so.  If you have the faith, I can promise you that you will see miricals in your own life.  That's not just a promise from me, but a promise from God. 

Love you all and have a good week!
Äldste Blackburn

Found some real Australian root beer!
So good!!