Monday, October 31, 2016

The deep forest, snow, pancakes and a gigantic moose! Who knew??

Hello everybody! 
First things first, I just want to tell a quick story of something that was amazing this last week. So we were driving to a city called Lycksele.  It’s about a 2 hour drive away.  We have a really positive family we are teaching out there and another member family and some more investigators that wanted to meet.  It’s way deep in the middle of nowhere but is so pretty.  That is where some cool Sami stuff is too!  (**The Sami people are like the Native indians with their own language and they are reindeer herders)  Also, it was one of the prettiest drives I have ever seen!  So on the way up we were driving and then saw a shadow move across the street... We looked closer and it was a huge!  And it looked like it had a baby with it.Couldn't tell what it was but there was a turn off on the side of the road and we went to get a closer look before it took off into the deep thick forest.  It was a MASSIVE moose!  And the little thing was not a baby moose... but a wolf!  In the middle of nowhere we got to see a moose being chased by a wolf up a hill leading into the forest!  It was pretty epic. 

Later that day after doing some work and teaching some people there, we were driving back and looked up, and then pulled over for a second because It was the clearest sky I had ever seen in my life.  It felt like I was in space!  The milky way galaxy was so bright and we saw 4 or 5 shooting stars and hen the Northern Lights came out. That was probably one of the coolest days of my mission.. and my life. :) 

10 Swedish pancakes!!!
More cool things happened this week believe it or not!  For District meeting we drove down to Örnsköldsvik. The lunch was one of the best parts.  We went to a Swedish Church center and they have a little cafe in there.  It was 40kr ($4.50) for some Swedish pancakes. I thought that sounded pretty dang good and cheap!  When we got there, I was ordering my pancakes and they asked how many I wanted... I asked, how many can I have and they said, “How ever much you want!" ........ So I got 10 haha. 10 pancakes for 40kr?!?!That’s the best deal ever and they tasted really good but that was a lot of Swedish pancakes haha. 

We had a baptismal interview with one of our investigators, and because he is Persian, he had to get interviewed by our mission president as well.  So President and Sister Beckstrand flew up here and they did the interview and our investigator did awesome!  He is getting baptized this Saturday. That night President and Sister Beckstrand were so desperate to see the Northern lights because Sister Beckstrand has never seen them, even after two and a half years being here!  It’s just never worked out haha.  We had our eyes out for them and as the night went on the lights came out so we told them.  They came to the lake by our house and watched the Northern lights with us.  It was cool to talk and be with them for a little bit, just Elder Jensen and I.

When I moved to Umeå, we started teaching a Swedish girl named Emma who is getting baptized next Saturday as well.  We have also been teaching her boyfriend who is less active and he is now coming back to church!  We are working towards getting them married and to the temple.  They are getting married on the 19th of November.  It’s cool how much can change with people in only 6 weeks!  I feel so blessed this transfer to be a part of so many miracles!  

You can't tell but this is a "halloween" party.
We all switched name tags and clothes.  That's
about as dressed up as we can be as missionaries.
The last cool thing that I just found out last night is that a guy we found in Jakobsberg last transfer is getting baptized this Saturday!  Do you remember the pizza place guy?  He is getting baptized!! :) :) :) That makes me so happy. 

Love you all and have a good week! <3
Äldste Blackburn

Sometimes you jus gotta
take those artsy fartsy pictures.


Monday, October 24, 2016

Fall is here but not for long!!


Last P Day hike and fire!
We got to be a part of the Skellefteå district meeting! These are some good missionaries.
This last week was just a blast as well.  I will start off by saying how this last p day we went and decided to find a trail and just hike and build a fire!  It was way fun but the only problem was that we didn’t really have any dry wood or tinder to get the fire going. So after several failed attempts and many pages ripped out of the back of our planners, we got the fire started! It was a nice p day! 

Elder Jämsä and I from splits last week chasing the Northern lights playing our guitars during dinner.
Our very own President and Sister Beckstrand! They love their Max Burger
Other than that it is getting colder and darker everyday.  We got the first snow last week, but it quickly melted.  We should be getting more snow this week and next. The sun is now setting around 4 o'clock as well. Time to break out the winter jackets! We had to go hard at the beginning of the week because we would be traveling for the weekend going farther north to stay with the Skellefteå Elders for the weekend.  It took about an hour and a half to get up there, and we made it in time for their district meeting.  Our mission president, President and Sister Beckstrand were there to be a part of the meeting as well. They then took us all out to lunch which was nice!  

After lunch, we drove out in the country to do some service for a less active member.  We dug around some rocks finding electric lines for her and then we left her with a good message.  She told us she would read the Book of Mormon and pray about it again. 

Later that night we split up and trackted/swung by some people and taught some good lessons.  We then spent the night at the Elders apartment and were there for church the next day.  There were a total of 4 active members there.  It was an experience! They don’t have a pianist so my companion, Elder Jensen, volunteered to play the piano.  He rocked it and then we had a musical number together.  I sang a song called "Helig är Jorden", but It is only in the Swedish hymn book.  So that was fun! 
Its fall! (not for long)

Skellefteå Branch! Elder Jensen and I were there to visit this last Sunday. They have a total of 4 member...
Back in Umeå, we had some really cool spiritual stuff that happened earlier in the week.  We were on our way to the city to contact right before another appointment and Elder Jensen was in the passenger seat.  He looked at me and and said, "I feel we should tract that green apartment building" as we were passing by.  I strangely felt like I wanted to as well, so we drove over there to find parking.  Nothing super close… (**remember, it’s COLD)  But we parked and tracted one half of the building with no success.  There were only like 5 people that opened the door then just shut it right after.  

As we got to the other half... We said a prayer in our hearts that there had to be a reason why we came here, and there could be someone that would open the door who wanted to talk to us. The second door we knocked on, this man answered the door with a very interested look on his face and we continued to talk with him telling him about the power of our message and how it brings one closer to Christ.  He then brought up how he wants to meet again and we gave him a Book of Mormon and taught him what it was about.  We switched phone numbers and set up an appointment a few days later.  
Worlds largest cheese slicers!!

When we went back, he had totally cleaned up his house and himself and let us in.  He is very interested and said he has been wanting to learn about mormons and that he has only heard good things. He explained how he is religious but something is missing and that he had been thinking about it recently when we knocked on his door.  We continued to talk and teach him about the restoration and it just made sense to him.  We told him about the experience of us feeling we needed to come and talk to someone in this apartment, and his face lit up.  We will be working with him more and more. 
The spirit is real!  The fun thing is learning how you can follow it and see the direct results in doing so.
Hope you all have a killer week!  

Love you :) 
Äldste Blackburn

The Skellefteå Church building.

Got to fix a flat tire for a member! Good memories.. :)

Monday, October 17, 2016

Reindeer herders and the power of persistence...


This week was one to remember! We started off the week by driving to a place called “Lappland”.  It’s where some of the "native Swedish" tribe are from. They are called Sami and there main job is to herd Reindeer and they travel around the north doing this. They are similar to the Native American Indians, or the Alaskan Eskimos.  We drove a few hours to get there on P day because we would be teaching a bible class that night for a group of investigators. 

On the way we came across one of the largest river rapids in Northern Europe. So we took a pit stop on this P day and got some awesome pictures. We went with the other Elders here in Umeå so it was a good time and the Bible class went well!  We taught them about our church and how the Book of Mormon is the Word of God together with the Bible and they loved it! They all accepted a Book of Mormon and agreed to read and pray about it. 

The area is so pretty as we drove up there, as well as the area where the meeting was.  That was the first time I have seen legit mountains on my mission and it was gorgeous!  These huge trees surrounding big bodies of water, pretty much like Umeå where we live but more intense out in this place because we were out in the middle of no where! 

As the week continued Elder Jensen and I had some more good things happen, but before that we went on splits with the Örnköldsvik Elders (Elders Jämsä and Hawkins) Elder Jämsä was my old companion on Gotland and it was fun to work with him again!  They are about an hour and a half drive a away south of us, and the drive is equally as beautiful. That night Elder Jämsä and I were teaching one of their investigators and she wants to be baptized next month! wohoo!  Then after the days work, Elder Jämsä and I were driving home for some dinner, and got a text from my companion who was still up in my city (Umeå) saying the Northern lights where way strong!  We looked out our window and there was nothing yet but a haze of light in the sky because the lights hadn’t made their way down to our city yet.  So we found a really dark place in a field and brought our guitars. We took time out of our dinner to look at the Northern lights and jam some sweet hymns with our guitars under the northern lights.

As the week continued.. One really cool thing that happened was that there is a man that we have been trying to teach who has had it really hard in his life.  He was a member a while ago and a bunch of stuff happened with his family and he then got heavy into drugs and alcohol. Elder Jensen and I swung by to see him about 3 weeks ago and we met with him for a bit and it was a very spiritual lesson.  He is almost always drunk but has stopped the drugs.  Our last visit a few weeks ago ended with us saying we would come back and go to church with him.  He stopped answering our calls for a few weeks but Elder Jensen and I both had a very strong impression that we needed to help him and how now is the time he needs to come back. 

So we went by his home last week and knocked on his door. No answer ... And then 3 more times spaced out, no answer.  We were about to walk away when I felt we should say a quick prayer.  I asked Heavenly father to bless this man with the strength he needs to overcome his trials and that he would open the door for us, asking in the strongest faith we had.  We told God that this was in His hands. 

Puppies of some investigators!!
When we finished the prayer, we knocked again and we heard a raspy voice from the other side of the door.  He asked who it was and we said, "The missionaries!" and he said "What?" and we said, "your friends!"  So he opened the door and we said we would come back the next day because he said he was busy.  We came back the next day and he had a friend there.  We began to talk to him about how through Christ anyone can be changed.  We then asked the friend if he would like to sit down and talk with us as well and he did.  We taught him about the Book of Mormon and he wants to learn more! So we are going back tonight to teach them both. 
Winter is coming....

The thing is.. Both of these men think that they are of no worth because of the things they have done in their lives or because of what they have been through... But they don’t fully understand the love of God...  No one really can, but we can do our best to help them understand that Christ is always there and wants to help us and for us to be on his side.  Not tomorrow or the next day... But today.  This church is true and we are in the right place. :)
Love you all and have a good week!
Äldste Blackburn

(This picture cracks me up... This is inside an Old Swedish church)