Monday, November 28, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving er´body! 

Elder Jensen and I had a good week. We didn’t have a Thanksgiving though (just because it is not a holiday here) but there is a member here who had a birthday so we went to their home for his birthday dinner. Elder Jensen and I were actually on splits most of the week. I stayed in Umeå and had Elder Jämsä came up from Örnsköldsvik so I was actually with him for Thanksgiving day. 
The day Elder Jensen and I came back together (Friday) we split again with the other Umeå Elders so it was a long week! We did find some new cool people to teach that are progressing. One lady in particular that Elder Jensen and I tracted into earlier this week. We knocked on her door and she was a really nice lady with a kid. We talked to her for a bit at the door and gave her a Book of Mormon. We set up another time where we could come back, and it was for Friday. We went and taught her and it went really well! She is Swedish and has a strong belief in energy and that there is something bigger than us. We shared the message of the Restoration with her, and committed her to read and pray. She is moving to Gotland (the island I was on for 4 months) with her husband in January. Should be awesome. The missionaries there are studs right now. We will try to meet with her some more before she and her family move. 
There are so many little miricals that happen everyday! It’s hard to remember them all but that’s why I have a journal right? I have made it a goal to write in my journal every night for these last 6 months.  "The shortest pencil is longer than the longest memory." 
My companion and I will only have one day in our area next week to work because we are visiting three other companionships and working with them. We will be heading down to Sundsvall from Tuesday to Thursday, then drive up to Skellefteå on Saturday and come back on Sunday. It should be fun to help out the branch up there. All the members in the Northern part of Sweden had a fast for their branch last month. (**A “fast” is when you do not eat food or drink anything for 24 hours combined with praying about something in particular) The fast was focused on strengthening the branch up there and not soon after, the missionaries called and said there is someone wanting to be baptized. No coincidences here! 
There is a record in this mission right now for the most people wanting to get baptized who have dates set. Many have already been baptized and it is amazing to see and work with such hard working missionaries up here in Norrland. 

The church is true! Love you all and hopefully I find some time to write next Monday. We will all be flying down to Stockholm on Monday for our Christmas Conference. 

Hej så länge! 
Äldste Blackburn

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The power of a changed heart...

The beautiful Norrland Zone.
This week was fun! Started off by me and Elder Jensen flying down to Stockholm on Monday for a leadership training. We got some good stuff to prepare us for the Zone training we were having that next Thursday. So it was way fun to get the training on this years Christmas Initiative!! WHOOT WHOOT! I would advise all of you reading this to check it out on  Every year during the holiday season the church comes out with a church video, and this year it’s not just a video.. There is a whole program that goes with it.. And it will be big. Talking world wide! So that’s what the trainings have been focused on. 

We flew home Tuesday and were way pumped about this initiative and spent all day Wednesday putting together our training. The Assistents came up and stayed with us to do some work on Thursday and Friday. The training went really well and everyone is feeling pumped! The weekend came and we were able to get out and do some work (on the streets). 
The weather has been pretty gross lately haha. It decided to warm up just enough so it wouldnt snow.. but just poor down a nasty cold rain/snow mixture which melted pretty much all the snow we had. BUT! It’s getting cold again this week and we should get some more snow. 

We were out and about in the city talking to people on the street with some spare time we had and we stopped this guy from africa. My companion recognized him and he actually had talked to him a few weeks ago and actually got his number then. Just has been busy. That was when I was on splits with some other Elders in the city next to Umeå called Örnsköldsvik so I had not met him. We started talking to him and he said he was just on his way home. We asked if he had some time to sit down right now in a cafe. He said he did, and we sat down with him and got to know him a bit. We then taught him the first lesson and he committed to be baptized this next month! So that was cool! 
Thumbs up for tracting!

Saturday.. Do you remember Josef and Emma? Emma was the one that was baptized last week.. and her boy friend is Josef, who has recently been coming back to church. They had a little wedding on Saturday and it was just us, (missionaries), our branch president and his wife and one other lady from our branch who were invited. We actually played for them "Frid och glädje finns på jord." ("Love at home" in English). Elder Harrison was on the Ukulele while I had my guitar and we all sang. Now they are working towards going to the Temple next year to be sealed! :) 

Lastly.. Emma was also confirmed this last Sunday! I actually had the opportunity to confirm her. :) It was so cool to be a part of that. Seeing the progression of someone is truly a miracle and seeing how much people can change if they want to. It’s not just them, but it’s really their heart (with how cheesy that may sound). Their heart changes and they start to develop a light that every one can see. 

Hope every one has a great week! 

Love you all! 
Äldste Blackburn

Monday, November 14, 2016

Snow caves and herb tea!


Our epic snow cave we built last p-day. We even had a tea party in it!
It is here and it came hard last week even down in Stockholm!  There was complete chaos there! I heard they got about 4 feet of snow, which is a record breaker for this time of year. So it's predicted to be a crazy winter for sure. Up here in Umeå the temperature has been dropping and was pretty cold this last week. It got to a low of -18 degrees celcius but now its getting a bit warmer and the snow is packing down and hardening. The sun is now setting at about 2:30pm and is setting earlier every day. It rises after 8:00am.. but will rise later every day as well. It has been fairly cloudy this last week so we didn't really see much of the Northern lights but will probably see them again soon as it the weather clears! 
The entry into our snow cave. It's only 3:30pm in this picture haha. The sun is setting at around 2:30 now!

This week was a bit hectic with transfers going on AND we had a big conference with all the members from Norrland, which is the entire top half of Sweden.  (**Several of the congregations up there are small so they call it a District Conference instead of a Stake Conf.) This conference was here in Umeå, and we had a fun time because it wasn't just the members that came to Umeå.. But also the whole zone of missionaries! President and Sister Beckstrand were also here and spoke. It was a good time and we met lots of cool people.

Found another frozen lake
But taking a step back.. This last Monday was pretty epic. We were emailing and looked out the window and saw a massive pile of snow that was about ten feet tall. It was snow that the snowplow had piled up from our church parking lot. My companion and I looked at each other and had the same idea. Snow cave!! So after we did some necessary P-day things, we got to work with the other Elders and started digging away. It actually turned out really nice and huge. Soon after we finished it.. We thought we were missing something.. HerbTea! So we had tea time in the snow cave we  built. It was a fun P day.  Next to the cave we built a big wall for snowball fights. That night was Family home Evening at the church so all the young adults had fun with the cave. 
We also found some frozen lakes and took some cool pictures on them. The rest of the week was full of teaching some new people and preparing Emma for baptism. The weekend started early Friday night when President and Sister Beckstrand flew up for conference and we went shopping with them to get food for all the missionaries coming in for the weekend. So that was fun and then the next day we had Emma's baptism, almost all the missionaries coming in, AND the first session of conference. It was pretty busy! 

Emma's baptism was at 9:00am in the morning and we had to get there three hours early to fill the baptsimal font. Felix Sahlin flew up from Göteborg to baptize her. He was a missionary in the mission not too long ago and served up here. He actually was the one who started teaching her and was really happy that he had the opportunity to baptize her. :) So that went smooth! Then we had Saturday Innebandy (indoor hockey) with the youth. That's when the Örnsköldsvik missionaries drove up and played with us. We then had a meeting with us, the other set of missionaries in Umeå and the Örnsköldsvik Elders. Later that day there was a session of conference and then the missionaries started coming at 7:00pm and we were shuttling them from the train station to the church!  
Elder Jensen and I standing out on a big frozen lake!

We had 4 Elders stay with us and 4 Elders stay with the other Umeå elders and 4 sisters stay with members. Two other Elders came down on Sunday and live close enough that they went home the same day. The fun thing was the sleeping arangements. When it came time to go to bed, Elder Mecham, Serving in Skellefteå was left without a bed or a pad to sleep on the ground.. So he voluteered to sleep on a 4 foot long couch. When we woke up he was curled into a ball on the kitchen floor, haha and it was cold! It was unusually cold.... So we did some investigation and found that the door to our balcony was left open over night! hahaha So it was a fun night for them but they were troopers! 

Other than that we shuttled everyone back to the station and it was a long but productive weekend. Elder Jensen and I will be flying down for a leadership conference in Stockholm tonight and will be coming back tomorrow night! It was also fun to have some time to get out and find new people this last week... and I'm excited for the week to come! 

Love you all :)
Äldste Blackburn

(** Additions from his Mom.)
Two of the Sundvall Elders: Elders Benson and Purkey, and the two Skellfteå Elders: Elders Mecham and Hainsworth. Made a pit stop to take a pic on the frozen lake!
There are huge channels of water next to our house leaving into the Baltic Sea which are all frozen!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Three feet of snow in a couple days. WOW!!

Hi friends. 

Lets just say that fall has come and gone this last week.  We woke up Tuesday morning and there was a little snow... Then it just kept coming!  The Assistents flew up here to go on splits with us and that’s when it started. We were raking some leaves and then it started to come down hard!  Hard enough to build a snow man 20 minutes later!  
Now thats a snow man

Cleaning the leaves right
before all the snow came
Then next day we took a 3 hour train ride down to a city called Sundvall to go on splits with Elders Adams and Purkey and there was a little snow there; But the next day when we took the train back up.. We were in for a surprise!  We came back to a foot of snow and over these past few days we are at about 3 feet of snow and its only the beginning of November!  We are way excited for what’s coming.  Should be an intense winter. 
Hassans Baptism!
It’s been fun to drive in snow as well (never have driven in snow before).  Even now its coming down pretty heavy.  The forecast doesnt show any slowing down either.  Bring it on!  Might have to break out the cross country skis to get around haha. 

Hassan was confirmed this last Sunday! :)
Other than that.. Hassan got baptized! :)  I got permission from him to post the picture.  He is so happy and we had a young man, Viktor Kohlström, baptize him... and another young man, Simon Carlsson to confirm him.  It went very smooth and Hassan was so happy and was almost glowing with joy on sunday. The same thing with the two young men that baptized and confirmed him.  This will be an experience that they won’t forget.  It’s so cool to see how this gospel can change people and their lives.  

Elder Adams is a stud. On splits with him in Sundsvall
Emma also passed her baptismal interview and is getting baptized this upcoming Saturday and will be get married the Saturday after that! :) Things are going really well with my companion Elder Jensen and I. We get along really well and we just had transfer calls and we staying together another transfer!  We are pretty happy about that.  Other than that.. We found little times to go out and contact people on the street this last week and found some cool people that we will begin teaching. This next week looks promising. 

Now we are taking off to have some fun in the snow!  Maybe have an epic snowball fight or something. 

Love you all! 
Äldste Blackburn

District meeting down with the Sundsvall Distict. Elder Scott is is going home!
It was a good "funeral"