Monday, March 27, 2017

African "foo foo"and Powerful Lessons

Hej hej! 
Teaching our friend Marvic
how to play some guitar!

Sooo where to begin….  Fun story time! So last week we were coming home from that Persian party that I shared about last week with all four of the Elders here in the city we live in, Elders Craun and Hawkins, Barns and me. This african woman walked up to the bus stop with her baby and stood next to Elder Hawkins. Elder Hawkins being the man he is, talked to her commenting on how adorable her son was. We all started talking and pretty much long story short, she loves Americans. We talked about some African food that we like and then she said, "Come to my babies 1st  birthday party next week! There will be lots of African food there!" So we were super pumped getting invited to a party on the way home from another party haha, and on top of that African food is awesome! 
Eating some African "foo-foo"
(potato mush you eat with your
hands) and african fried fish with 
the tail still on it. Way good! 
We went to the party this week bringing a little stuffed animal that was purchased by Elder Craun to be a gift from all four of us. We thought…there must be a reason why we are going to the birthday party. It felt right to go at least for a little bit and eat some good food and meet cool people. Both of those things happened. Just being there as 4 white boys from America with white shirts and black tags in a room full of fun loving Africans made people very curious and we taught almost every one at the party. NO JOKE. We didn't press it on anyone. People would just ask us questions after questions until it led to us teaching about the Book of Mormon and the restoration of the Church of Christ. We switched numbers with so many people, set a few appointments, and gave several Books of Mormons out. 
Jordan's Birthday party!

It seemed like there was always a lesson going on in both sides of the room. Everyone we met was always interested in why we're here in Sweden and about the message. I was teaching with Elder Craun for most of the time and the missionaries who haven't been out for very long are just getting better and better! He is a stud. The party went on and we ate amazing African food. Foo-foo is my favorite. You eat it with your hands. So that was a fun experience and we will be staying in contact with several of those people we met. 

Something spiritual... 
I have personally been working on Christlike attributes because those are always good especially as a missionary. One that has been harder for me is patience and humility with people who are rude on the street. Sometimes it’s hard to walk away. After several attempts of trying to help the person understand something and they don’t want to and continue to be rude then it’s wasting time you could be using to find someone who is actually ready and prepared to hear the message we teach. 
A few of our innebandy crew.
We play every saturday with investigators.
The finest team in Stockholm.
That happened this week with an older man and we quickly realized after some attempts at reaching him on a deeper level that we were wasting the precious time we have. So without any argument we invited him to act and to look up our website. He continued to say rude comments and he even was touching my shoulder :) haha So we walked away still feeling happy and with smiles on our faces. A split second after we turned away, there was a young couple that was about to walk by us. We stopped them and started teaching them and ended up giving them a book of mormon and we are planning to meet them this week. That couple is way cool and really liked the message we shared with them on the street. Gotta remember that this is the Lords time and its precious! We would never have talked to that couple if we stayed one second longer arguing with that guy. 

Hope everyone has a great week! 
Äldste Blackburn
Bikes, water, lifeguard rescue
rings. Cant get any better.

Oh how I love bikes! 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Killer week!

My bro Kaleb!
Hello Everybody! 

Sorry not much time today. Finishing up the p-day here in Västerås, Sweden with popping off this quick email. 

Today was actually pretty cool! One of my best bros, Kaleb Farnworth, and his wife Hannah flew to Sweden today and took my companion and me out to lunch. They both served as missionaries here as well, and it was pretty cool too see them again!  (*He was Elders Blackburn's Zone leader when he first arrived in Sweden*) We went around Västerås with them for a bit, and then they are continuing to visit some other places here in Sweden. 

Other than that we had killer week! We had a week full of lessons and preparing two specific investigators for baptism coming up in a few weeks. 

Persian party! 
We also were invited to a Persian New Years party that one of our investigators was having to eat some good food! It was so epic with lots of really good Persian food!  All four of us missionaries here in Västerås were invited and we were the only white people at the party, ha ha.  It was a good time and there was one woman who might want to come to church. 

I have a lot of good pics that I will include with my blog this week. Until next week! Love you all!

This is Kebab. It is delicious but not very nutritious
Äldste Blackburn

Look what I caught!

Fancy hot chocolate with a guy we teach

Monday, March 13, 2017

"Awesome Tuesdays", and incredible things happening!

This is a pic from "Awesome Tuesday"
with the David and Ida. Every Tuesday night in
Västerås, we have this which is dinner,
a lesson, and a game. Truly is awesome!

This week was very productive and we taught a lot of good lessons and people. It feels like it’s just going faster and faster.. Kind of crazy! We were blessed this week with many little things.. for example.. It feels like we were led to so many new people that were ready to hear the gospel. By the end of the week, we got 14 new phone numbers which equals 14 new potential people to teach! Each of them feels like it was just divine intervention that we met. 

There was one guy that was a last minute contact on the way home and he is from Syria. Didn’t have much time to talk but switched numbers and gave him a brochure in Arabic and he was like, "I know this, and I have a Book of Mormon!" as he said in broken Swedish. So we gave him our number and he said he would call us in about 20 minutes. On the bus home I got the call and he said he was REALLY interested and that he has been wanting to meet us and talk about it. He was given a Book of Mormon in Arabic a while ago but lost contact with the missionaries and was really happy when we talked to him. We will teach him this next week. Good stuff happening. 
Elder Moulton came to Västerås for some
good old splits with me this last week.
Another fun thing that happened was on our walk to church yesterday. We went early to take care of some things and we were in a hurry. On the way, we passed this Swedish guy and we said hi to him as we passed by and he looked at us like he had talked with us before so we turned around and asked him that. He said, yes many times and that he was just on a walk. We said “Well.. we are on a walk as well! Would you like to walk with us to church so you can check it out?" He said yes! He had never been to our church before so we walked with him and got to know him. When we got to church, Elder Craun and I showed him around and then taught him about the Book of Mormon and we are going to meet him this week. He really liked the church and thought our message sounded interesting. 

There was another time Elder Barnes and I were in the library about to call some people and we walked past this group of guys from Africa. One seemed to know us, so we started talking to him and sat down..  Over a period of time more of his friends came and we found ourselves teaching a group at least 6 guys. They are all very interested in learning about Christianity because they come from a land where they can’t learn about it. We are teaching all of them tomorrow at the library! 
The building with the white pillars is where
we play Innebandy (indoor hockey) every
Saturday morning with the branch
and people we teach.
That’s just a little of the awesome wonders that we experienced this week! Things are still moving forward with the people we are teaching and I´m pumped for this upcoming week and transfer! I will be staying here in Västerås this last transfer with Elder Barnes as my companion. This transfer is a short one as well, so it will be 5 weeks. So start counting down! Well I’m not.. Hasn't even hit me yet haha. 

Love you all and have a good week!
Äldste Blackburn

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Incredible week! :)

Hi everyone! 
Elder Bentson, my "son" in the middle
is the Elder I trained. He is up in the
good old North in Skellefteå right now!

It’s crazy to think I have been writing these letters for almost two years now and some of you have been reading every week. Thank for your love and support. Every day is full of not only new adventures but also the missionary grind... Meaning going out and talking to everyone you see on the street and working all day while not letting off the throttle. In this.. there is a goal to teach people about what has helped me the most in my life. A lot of these things can’t be explained through an email.. but it is something that one actually needs to go out and experience. Just want to shout out to all my past companions and missionaries I have had a chance to work with. They are those who have helped teach me many things and skills involved in this work. Couldn't do it without them and most importantly.. the Lord. 
My last French companion,
Elder Baquedano. Love that man.

This week was a special one because we were privileged to have a "Mission Tour" taught by President Kearon who is the area authority over the church in Europe. It was one of the coolest trainings I have been a part of. He is so inspired and real! He's a convert (not born into a family who are members of the church) and is from England. He talked a lot about the importance of being "real" with people in general but also as a full time missionary. He "threw down" on our personal testimony of Christ and the reason why we are on our missions. He talked about "Stop worrying, and just work." Sometimes we get caught up in little things about the work or get stressed.. We need to focus on the basics as well as our testimony and just work. No point in getting stressed or worked up about things nor would our Heavenly Father want us to. There were a lot of good things that he talked about and I took a lot of notes haha. 

Elders Adcox and Lee, real studs.
Elder Carter! Good to see him again.
He is still killin it all the way up in Boden.

I also had the opportunity to have a one-on-one interview with him! I asked him some good questions and it was a cool experience. We also sang a cool arrangement of "How Great Thou Art" that my companion, Elder Barnes arranged before the mission. It was a great week!

We taught a new investigator. She is from the Philippines, and is about 30 years old. She was actually taught by the missionaries about six months ago and was even was working towards baptism but she dropped off for some personal reasons and recently decided to come to church. We taught her this last week and she said how she has been hearing a voice telling her to come back to this church. So she did and while there, she felt the holy ghost so strong and began to cry. She was even crying when we were teaching and testifying to her. She seriously asked us this question… "Why is it that I feel this warm feeling so strong here, and not in other churches?"  So we went on teaching her and needless to say she is one of the most prepared people EVER. So she accepted a date for baptism to work toward. 

To the left on the bottom of the field is a big
formation of rocks, which is viking boat grave.

A lot of good stuff happened this week and we are continuing to go hard. Stake conference was great.. and the song we sang went well. Today, we are having a great p day! Just got back from some Viking ruins and burial grounds. Hope everything is going well with everyone! 
Ha en bra vecka! 
(have a nice week)

Med kärlek
(with love)
Äldste Blackburn
Sweet Viking ruin stone

Caught Elder Barnes slipping haha