Monday, January 30, 2017

Transfers! Lots of changes and the adventure continues!

Buzzed hair and saying bye to the two biggest hipsters I have met. These kids are going far.

There have been many big things that have happened this week including transfers, work-overs in Sundsvall, buzzing my hair, and of course.. teaching repentance! It was honestly a wonderful week full of adventures and being spiritually pumped. 
Our districts last district meeting together.
SO... Transfers... I am going to the one and only Västerås! Västerås is a city more inland but is in the greater area of Stockholm. The new zone I will be in is called "Södertälje" and I will not be a zone leader there, but I will have the chance to finish my mission hard as a normal missionary with Elder Barns. Elder Barns is a musical genius and he has been one that I have sung with quite a bit at different events here. So we should have some musical fun as well and going as hard as we can for these last two transfers of my mission. I’m pretty excited. 
This picture is full of such studs that the light is emitting from the picture. These young men are the coolest guys. All preparing for missions.
I had my last Sunday up here in Umeå and it was sad to say goodbye to everyone but it’s chill because I will be back in 3 months with my family. 

The professional opera singer, Nils Kohlström (invited us to his concert). Such an awesome guy!
Earlier this week was killer tho. We ended up working here in Umeå on Monday and Tuesday and then traveled down to Sundsvall on Wednesday morning to work with two companionships. We came back Friday morning and we worked the rest of the day. That evening we were given permission to go to a classical concert here in Umeå that we were invited to by a member in the branch who is in the choir. He even paid for our tickets! It was so nice to hear a professional symphony and a opera choir! It was a cool experience. We just have to take some time from P day to make up for the lost work hours. 
The Sundsvall missionaries at their District meeting. I was able to work with Elder Rowley and Elder Benson. They are just so good!
We then had transfer calls on Friday night and on Saturday morning had group call with our zone. It was a good week and despite the chunk of the week we were gone.. We taught a lot of good lessons and are helping our investigators progress. Even taught a Swedish man and he wanted to commit to being baptized in two months. I also took the opportunity to buzz my head  because I was just getting tired of hair and it was turning into an afro. Don’t want an afro. haha
Birthday cake from the Delang family!
Birthday cake from the Iguaran family. Some of the coolest and nicest Colombians I have met!
Other than that, I just want to shoot a big thank you to everyone who wished me a happy birthday! AND to my companion, Elder Baquedano who secretly told all the people we taught which resulted them in baking me cakes and such! It was a good 22nd birthday! One to remember for sure :)  

I will be transferring this Wednesday morning will fly down to Stockholm where I will then take a train to my new area. 

Love you all and especially all the members here in Umeå that have made my time here something awesome. These past 5 months have led to so many miracles and personal growth for me and my two companions. 

Saying goodbye to Elder Hainsworth who is flying back home soon. Soon we will joining each other in the mountains of Utah shredding some fresh powder.
Next time you hear from me, I will be in the nice warmth and snowless Stockholm. 
Hejdå Norrland! <3 Tills vi möts igen. 

Äldste Blackburn
The Norin family! I will miss this family for sure. They are awesome!

Our branch president, President Ottosson.
Celebrating Sister Wagner's birthday as well!
Happy birthday cake from the Delang family!
The symphonic/opera concert.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Big week! Complete with a Zone training, baptisms, lessons, indoor hockey, and of course pizza!


This last week was another one of those jam packed weeks for Elder Baquedano and me. Between having a Specialized Zone Training here in Umeå, to going on splits with the Assistents, to preparing two of our investigators for baptism this last Saturday, and just going straight up hard teaching our investigators and tearing it up on the streets. 

The training went well. President and Sister Beckstrand and the Assistents taught a good training and my companion and I were able to present the new “Standards of Excellency” (number goals for 2017). After the training was over I was able to go on splits with Elder Jensen! (My old companion up here in Umeå) So that was fun to teach with him again. 
So ya that all happened, and then we hit the week hard and are seeing some real success here in Umeå as the transfer is coming to a close. We ended the week by waking up at 5 in the morning to drive to the church and turn the baptismal font on (takes 3 hours to fill) and then we had the baptismal service for the couple from Iran that morning. It went smooth and Elder Baquedano baptized the wife and I baptized the husband. We also made a little arrangement of the song, I am a Child of God. I played the guitar and my comp and I sang. A big part of the branch came to support which was nice. After the baptism.. the husband told us that we could go by his pizza restaurant and eat lunch for free! We took that invitation but first we played indoor hockey with the young men in the branch (congregation in the city of Umeå).  It was probably the most intense match I have had yet on my mission. haha (our team won) Just thought I would throw that in there, but we were pretty tired! We knew we had free pizza awaiting us from our awesome new member. So we drove over to his restaurant and had some amazing pizza. 

The day wasn’t over though because we had some cool people to teach through the day. We even had time to go out and talk to some people on the street. We stopped this guy on our way back to the car whose name is Oskar. He is a Swede and had talked to missionaries two times before on the street and wasn’t really interested either time. But we started to talk with him a little bit and it turned into a cool lesson.  He said he would come to church the next day (Sunday) and meet us before church at 10:00am. He didn’t give us any info about him, like a phone number or a way to contact him.. but we had  faith! 
Next morning.. He came at 10:00 and we showed him around the church and taught him with a young adult member. He is one of the most prepared people. He then chose to stay for the rest of church. That’s 4 hours at church!  He loved it tho and really felt something special. The questions he had were directly in line with the doctrine we believe in. We asked him what it would mean to him if he got an answer from God that this is true, and he said it would mean he would have to continue with this and get involved more. Something special that he has as well as everyone else who accepts the gospel is that they are willing.  Willing to act, to read, to pray, and to get an answer. He is going to get an answer from God if he chooses to continue on this path. He already felt something special and that’s why we are meeting him tomorrow. 

This next week my companion and I will be traveling down to Sundsvall to work with the missionaries there for a few days. Should be fun!  Got a big last week of this transfer coming up.

Love you all and have a killer week! :)
Äldste Blackburn

Monday, January 16, 2017

Travel, snow, and wild reindeer in the forest!

In Stockholm after MLC
Hey everybody! 

I’m back emailing now :) Missed last week, as these last few weeks have been crazy busy.  It has covered me traveling all the way down to Stockholm for a MLC meeting (leadership council), and then all the way up to Skellteå and Boden to work with the wonderful missionaries up there. 

The meeting down in Stockholm was great and we set up some goals for the new year. We came back and worked hard for the week and then drove up to Skelleteå to be a part of the District meeting and work the the Elders there. Elders Wilson and Hainsworth. We Stayed in Skellefteå from Saturday to Sunday.
Skellteå and Luleå District meeting

Once a transfer we go to church in Skellefteå where there are four members that come every Sunday. We go there to speak and help out. I was working with Elder Wilson. He is a stud of a missionary and we had a good time. Talked to a lot of good people on the street and tracting, and also had some cool experiences following the spirit and finding some new positive people for them to teach.  

The Elders up in Boden.
We drove up to a city called Boden on Sunday night. It’s near the top of Sweden. We stayed the night on Sunday and Monday, and drove home on Tuesday afternoon. We had a pretty epic p day! We were driving down the road and I saw some heads move in a big white field of snow. It was a group of Reindeer! Wild ones! So we pulled over to take some cool pics but I will send those next week. We had a really good time with the Elders up there as well. I was with Elder Carter. He is a new missionary and I learned a lot from him, He does not seem like a new missionary at all. He knows what he is doing! So we worked very hard and taught some good lessons. 
Elder Carter!
After splits.. We had to make the long trek back home in our car, which was a four hour drive back down to Umeå. So that called for a lot of "pump up" Mormon Tabernacle Choir and EFY songs. Gotta stay awake and alert somehow! I also have the company of my awesome French companion. We have fun together on these long trips. 
Cruising through the woods
Nice pretty frozen lake behind us

What was so cool about this week though is that two investigators we are teaching are getting baptized this Saturday! A husband and wife from Iran. We have been teaching them for a month now and they know the gospel is true. The cool thing with them is that you take it back to a few months when I was companions with Elder Jensen here in Umeå. We were walking to a dinner appointment, hurrying so we wouldn't be late but I felt we should stop and talk to a certain family that was walking by and Elder Jensen did as well. We stopped them and showed them the Christmas video the church put out this year and then we gave them a Book of Mormon in Persian. We got the Dads number to keep in touch to set up a lesson. He talked to us on the phone and said he wasn’t interested but he had two friends that might be. That’s when this couple who is being baptized this weekend called us. They called and said they got our number from their friends (the family we stopped on the street) and want to meet. We have been meeting with them from then on. 
The spirit is real! Something I have learned is to act on a spiritual promptings immediately. Don’t hesitate, because blessings come. You might not see it in the small picture... But there is a plan and organization to everything in this plan that we are living in. Including finding people who are prepared for the gospel. Everyone of us can play a part.

 Love you all, and have a good week!
Äldste Blackburn
Flying down to Stockholm!

Worlds largest cheese slicers! Can never get too many pictures with this thing.

Total candid

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Gott nytt år!!!

Hope everyone had a good New Years. My companion and I spent it with the coolest Colombian family. We ate some good enchiladas and even got to see some sweet fire works! To top the night off.. we were driving home and looked out the window to find the sky filled with the Northern lights dancing in the sky with colors of green, red and white. We pulled off the road and watched for a few minutes. The Northern lights are truly stunning and I feel so lucky to have this in my backyard up here! 

The darkest day of the year was this last week, and the sun set at about 1:50pm and rose around 10:00am. It’s a good three and half hours of sun! It doesn’t even rise all the way so it will be dark most of the day haha, but the sky is always filled with intense color. Most beautiful sky I have ever seen. Even the dark is beautiful! The darkness hasn’t really had an big effect on me this year. Just gotta keep taking those Vitamin D´s!
We were asked to take a picture like we were teaching someone by the mission office.. so this is totally fake so you all know haha. This is the Colombian family, the Inguarons.

This week in general was a killer week for Elder Baquedano and I. We have a lot of awesome people to teach and 5 of them are preparing for Baptism within these next two months. Two of them are Swedish. The other three come from Iran and Somalia. This last week I also had the opportunity to travel down to Örnsköldsvik to go on splits with my old companion from Jakobsberg, Elder Hatch. We had a good time together. I got a little sick but we still went hard and taught some good lessons together. Even got some free pizza from their investigator! He invited us to go sauna with him (**sauna use in Sweden is a cultural thing.  A lot of people have them in their homes and are used almost daily by many) but we had to refuse the offer no matter how tempting that was haha. But It was a good splits. 

The sisters missionaries were creeping around
and took this pic of us while we were teaching
a lesson to a girl on the street haha.
This last Sunday we had an awesome sacrament meeting!  The four missionaries here in Umeå were asked to speak. It was really good actually. Elder Baquedano and I sang Nearer my God to Thee but did a clever little thing with it. The first verse was in French which he sang while I "oo"ed along.. and the the second verse I sang in English while he did the "oo"ing. Then the last verse we sang together in Swedish with the melody and harmony. We had a young man play the piano for us and it sounded cool!

New Years eve!
I talked about Gods plan for us and how we can start the new year out right. I talked about trusting in the Lord when things get hard or when you don’t feel ready to do something. I compared it to a Pole Vault analogy.. We have to get a bigger pole if we want to jump higher but to get a bigger pole we have to be strong and fast enough.. with good technique. It can be scary to get a bigger pole and sometimes you don’t feel ready.. But your coach knows you and he won’t push you too far. He knows your limits just like the Lord does! A little cheesy but it works.
That same Sunday we got a text from a guy we talked to just days before on the street. A 26 year old Swede who is so cool! We had been staying in contact with him, and he texted us asking if church was still going. We said it ended but we were still at the church doing some work. He rode 45 minutes to church in the cold and ice on his bike! We showed him the church and he is probably one of the most prepared people I have met in my life. He was saying how after he talked with us he has been thinking a lot about church and wants to be a part of it. He said he felt good when he talked to us about the gospel and that he wants to come to church every Sunday and even help out! How cool?? So he said he wants to work towards baptism in February. I think its amazing how God prepares people and puts us in peoples path when the time is right for them. 

Well! I’m am flying down to Stockholm in a few hours for a training with my companion, so gotta rap things up now. Hope you all have a awesome first week of the new year! 

Äldste Blackburn