Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Midsommar and a visit to the hospital :)

Hej kära vänner!

This week was a big one. We had Midsommar, three days off to have some good fun/go to the hospital! But before that, we started the week off good. We went on a hike for P day, and then the rest of the week we had some good lessons with different people and working with several specific people we are preparing for baptism. We contacted some fun people too!  I dont know what it was this week.. but we contacted different people on the street from the Sacramento area and one even from Folsom (very close to home)!  

There was also one thing that happend earlier this week as well. It all started out later in the afternoon when we were spending some time talking with people on the streets.  We talked with this one guy, and he said he didn’t know that much about mormons but he really likes and respects them (something we are not used to hearing). haha  So we were talking with him and having a good time and keeping the conversation light and friendly.The most people usually know about the Book of Mormon is from watching the musical, "The Book of Mormon" haha and that was true was with this guy as well.  We showed him the book of mormon we were holding and started to teach him about it when a Swedish family walked by and interrupted us and started talking about how much they love mormons!!  We were feeling the love!!   They began telling us how their son, (who was with them) just came back from America from an exchange program for school.  He actually stayed with a Mormon family in Oregon and said how much they like Mormons because of that.  Also, how much respect they have for missionaries for coming to different lands and leaving everything behind for two years. The son got a picture with us AND this whole time this was happening while the guy we contacted was still standing there.  He ended up wanting a picture with us too! haha   Now we were really feeling the love.  We talked with the family for a while and they left and then switched numbers with the guy we contacted and are going to try to set up a meeting this week.  So that was fun.  We then worked for a few more days until Friday, which was Midsommar (holiday). 

In short, Midsummer is when the whole city meets together for a big party in a massive field and they have this massive pole that the people put leaves and flowers on and then lift it up into the air.  There is a Swedish folk band and Swedish folk dancers that put on little performances through the program.  Also everyone gets in big circle around the pole if they want to, and you do traditional Swedish Midsommar dances and sing the songs that go with them.  We had fun doing that. There were some people wearing traditional Swedish clothes and most girls had the crown of flowers which is also a tradition.  The rest of the day until 9:30pm was completely open do do what we want as well as that Saturday too.

So the rest of the day went like this.  We had steaks at President and Sister Maddens house.  They completed their mission and are actually went home that day!  So we had dinner.. and then Elder Scott and I went fishing and that’s when the fun started.  President Madden bought us a huge case of Australian imported rootbeer but they open kind of weird.  If you do it wrong.. one of them can actually explode in your face! haha  No .. They are quite easy to open actually.  Elder Scott broke this little piece off on his bottle by accident which you need to open it.   The bottle tops are rounded so its not like you can use a bottle opener either... So at this point we are at the ocean about to fish and I see him trying to open it.  I was going to try and open it the redneck way by finding a lip on the cap (even tho its rounded) and putting it on the sharp corner of the dock we were on, then hit the top of the bottle with my palm in a downward motion to hit the cap off.  When I did that.. It actually broke the pressurized glass and then it exploded and glass shot out and one piece hit my upper lip. (lucky didn't hit my eye)  It wasnt super bad.  Just a little deep and might have needed stitches, so our mission presidents wife suggested I go to the hospistal to get checked out.  

We went to the emergency clinic (the only thing open) and there were problems of ALL kinds there haha.  Lets just say that there is a reason why we don’t have to work the next day... because everyone has hangovers. AND some of those people do dumb things and go to the hospital.  SO there was a two our wait until my appointment so we went home and by this time it was 9:00pm. We went back and got it looked at.  No need for stitches. Just some annoying white tape under my lip for a few days.  That was fun!  

The next day we went on a hike and found a sweet cliff that is hundreds of feet in the air.  We did some fun exploring that day. Sunday was good too, had the girl we are preparing for baptism at church and then today is P day again!  We actually have the zone leaders coming out here on splits today.  They do it once a transfer and they will be here for a few days.  So we are about to leave to pick them up.. But love you guys!  Next time I write we will have gotten transfer calls! 

Hej så länge
Äldste Blackburn

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Lots of fun stuff this week!! Reunions, and a huge conference!


My MTC group!!! Last time we were all together was when we flew to this country. All grown up!
OHHH Äldste Bailey! I haven't seen this guy for days!!!! He has been isolated up in the cold tundra
We had some big stuff happen this week in the mission!   We actually had a Mission Tour on the Mainland.  It was split up into two groups.  The top half of Sweden, which is 4 zones (Norrland, Stockholm, Södertälje, and South Stockholm)  Gotland is counted as part of the South Stockholm zone. The bottom half, with two zones (Göteborg and Malmö).  President Dyches, of the Europe Area Presidency was there to speak to us. There were tons of missionaries there and It was fun to see a bunch of old friends and three old companions!  

Reunited with my last comp Äldste Jämsä at zone tour!
We left for the conference on Tuesday at about 4:30 to catch our boat to mainland.  We got off the boat and drove to a city called Handen to sleep at some missionaries apartment and arrived 8:30ish pm.  One thing we did is have a mission fast for 24 hours to prepare ourselves to listen to a general authority.  So we didn’t eat food from noon that Wednesday to noon the day of the conference. That was a tough one but we were defiantly spiritually prepared!  We learned a lot of good things and left with a lot of good notes. 

I also had the opportunity to sing at the tour (conference) which was really fun.  There are three other guys that I have sung with for other conferences and such and they are all awesome dudes.  One of them is a very good composer and made this arrangement before his mission of "How Great Thou Art".  No joke, this was the coolest arrangement of this song I have heard.  It is so powerful and was a real challenge to learn and sing.  So since we couldn't practice together until the day of the conference.. They emailed the music to me so I could print it off and learn it before the conference.  I learned it and then we got together for a bit before the conference started... put it together and it sounded great. The performance went really well.  Those guys are awesome!

This picture quality is just unbelievable. But this is the group I usually sing with. They are all bros and sing like angels.
A few good things I learned from the conference is that God can’t be “Googled”....  Meaning you can’t get to know God unless you actually go to him and find out what he really is like and how he feels about you.  It takes some effort.  (prayer, scripture study, doing what is right) It was also a lot about how we can be more open and worthy of the spiritual influence in our lives as missionaries.  A lot of good stuff was taught.
We said goodbye to everyone and drove back to the boat station to catch our boat and then the rest of the week was pretty normal!  A lot more tourists have come and it was really rainy and windy this last week but tourists were still out and about! 

We have about four people that we have been working with a lot these past few weeks and one in particular is progressing very well. She actually has investigated the church before but there have been some problems at home with parents being judgmental about religion and what not..  So it has been hard for her and is causing her to doubt.  She has been hard to contact with missionaries for a while now, but we were able to get a hold of her!  We have been teaching her and her friend and have had some very good spiritual lessons together.  We have been talking about the trials living in today's world with outside influences, talked about faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, and just lately.. Baptism.  At the end of the lesson we were talking to her about how if we show God that we are doing our part and wanting to know the truth..  he WILL answer us with out a doubt.  When one receives that answer.. they will want to take the next step which leads to baptism.  It’s something that a person will want.  She agreed to commit to baptism by setting a date and we are excited to continue working with her.  Her and her friend came to church with us yesterday and they both loved it.  Her friend texted us later that day and told us that if we want, we can come by and teach him some more and gave us his address!  So we are excited to be working with him as well. 
This shows in a nutshell how our companionship was back in Uppsala.

WELL that's pretty much it, but we will be preparing for Midsommar this weekend! :)  It a Swedish holiday about as big as Christmas and we get all of Friday off to participate in the festivities and Saturday as well! It should be fun here on Gotland :) Be expecting a bunch of pictures.. 

Love you all!
Äldste Blackburn

The west coast of Gotland.

A little concert going on in Town!

This has to be one of the nastiest creatures I have seen. People should not shave the tales off of their dogs. Case closed

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Tourists, tourists, and more tourists!


Every time we go out to do our laundry
and even when we come home
at night, this cat comes running
out to us to give us some love.
So this week has been one of those where we went out and talked to all the tourists again.  We ran into some Americans too!  Even ran into a group of church members from Salt Lake City, Utah!  They were so surprised to see two missionaries on Gotland Island.  We really do have missionaries everywhere!  Each week there are waves of people that come from different parts of the world to visit this island.  It’s kind of cool.  This week we talked with a lot of Norwegians too.  We can still communicate with each other even though it is a different language because Swedish and Norwegian are very similar.

Last Monday for our Prep day, we went to this HUGE Viking museum exhibit here in Visby.  It was really interesting and we got some good pictures.  The armor was fun to try on too! 
We even got to try on some armor!  It was SO heavy , ha ha.
Viking museum in Visby... We decided
to have some fun in the kids exhibit!
We had a party with our new members and their families at a members home.  When we drove them back home, we stopped at some old viking ruins which was also interesting and got some greats pics.  

In the town of Visby on this island, there is this thing called “studenten”.  It's basically a big party for the graduating high school students.  They all get in big decorated wagons and are towed by tractors.  They drive around all day and night with really loud music blasting full of the students wearing sailor hats and drinking a lot haha. 

The whole city comes out to watch them drive around. So it was pretty cool!  This year something really sad happened though. Late at night, one of the students tried to jump from one wagon to another and fell… He was run over and killed.  It’s pretty sad especially because Gotland is so small and all the students know each other very well.  It is pretty hard for them, and for the people living here.  
Studenten on Gotland.  There are many
of these decorated wagons and they
party all day and night.
That situation made me think about a few things…  As sad as this situations is, (and so many others) this life is so short when you think about time of eternity.  Having an eternal perspective about life is the ultimate strength.  This isn't just something we hope for... This is something we can know for certainty for our selves.  It’s awesome!  We just need to take the first step, humbling ourselves and admit that it’s possible.  Heavenly Father loves all of us and there is a plan for you and for me.  That knowledge is available to each of us personally.  I am grateful.
Love you guys and have a good week! 
Äldste Blackburn

Some old viking shoes.

A skull with the chain mail still on it.

They found this skull with three arrow heads in it... There was a
huge civil war here on Gotland Island back in the dark ages.

They found the largest deposit of Arabic coins here on Gotland
in the whole world!  Those vikings really got around!

Enjoying some warmth of goat fur.

Party for our new members and their families.

This the biggest viking boat grave in Sweden, and it's on Gotland.
 A boat grave is really a grave for the captain of a ship who died,
and they form the rocks into the size of his ship.

Add caption
9000 year old skeleton!