Elder Isaac Blake

Elder Isaac Blake
Email: isaac.blake@myldsmail.net

Monday, December 30, 2013

December 30, 2013

Fam,

Don't have too much time today cause I just got back from the bus terminal waiting for my new comp, Elder Hermansen. He's from Utah - good chance that well have 4 gringos in the pension. Super pumped to be working with him.

I'll start with the highlight - baptism de Anabel!! We've been fighting for that day all month and finally she took the plunge (literally).

I'll share the x-factor: a member, and specifically, his testimony. She's been struggling with committing to baptism because of a few tiny things, mostly stemming from the fact that she doubts her faith. This recently returned missionary came in, and when all the scrips and testimonies from us weren't enough, shared a great example about faith.

Our lives are like a kid learning to ride a bike. It's tough at times - we're gonna fall, and at times it seems like we'll never learn. However, God is always right there behind us, waiting to catch us when we fall, and shouting advice and encouragement. However, we can't see him - we can only sense His presence. We have to trust in Him and keep pedaling, and if we do this, we're obviously gonna learn, and then have a ton of fun and put the bike to good use. The key is to just believe and trust, even if we can't see.

Well, she did just that. We showed up on Friday and she comes out without her towel or change of clothes, saying she wasn't ready. We calmed her down a bit and convinced her (the Spirit convinced her) and she came. Great service with a bunch of members, and then there was an end of the year party for the ward. She stayed and made a bunch of friends, partying till 1:30 AM (Argentina is insane - people stayed till 2:30). Then Sunday was a GREAT day in church. She got confirmed and all of our converts from these past 3 months were there, except Emanuel who moved. Elder Ramirez was sent off well.

I testify to the power and importance of the members (YOU) going out with the missionaries. DO IT.
 

 
 
 
Logistics:

Can you send me: a Celcius to Fahrenheit converter chart, Gold Bond body powder, and a bunch of ties? I'd love a tie specifically picked out (hopefully currently owned) by Dad, Brigham, and Matty Lawrence, with something written on it. I want to rep you guys more out here in the field.

Can you ask Jesse Dimick if there are exercises I should be doing?

Dad, Mom, everyone - Dad nailed it with what I want to hear from you guys: " Maybe what you really want is just some more thoughts and feelings of my/our hearts.  Or just some more details from our live so that you can feel/stay connected."

This is exactly what I want - please, keep me filled in on everything you're doing, but more importantly, how you're feeling and what you're thinking.

Love Yall!!

Elder Blake

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Guest Post From the Boston, MA Mission President

Here is a message that President Dan Packard of the Boston, MA mission gave to our congregation on Sunday and also sent to the missionaries.  Merry Christmas!  We are so excited to Skype with Isaac tomorrow and will post the news ASAP.

Merry Christmas! As we approach Christmas Day, we feel our hearts inclined towards the Savior, and we are filled with introspection. We keep asking ourselves, “What was Jesus trying to teach us through His birth?” and we are struck with the thought of Jesus’ condescension. The Jesus who created this world, who spoke to Moses from the burning bush and who brought fire from heaven, went down, down, down, smaller and smaller, until he became a tiny embryo, then a fetus and then a helpless baby who could not swallow solid food or control his bladder, totally dependent on his teenaged peasant mother. In other Christian faith traditions, this act is known as the “incarnation.” We don’t use this word very much in our meetings because it carries with it connotations of the early creeds describing the trinity. Because of the restoration, we know that when Jesus cried in agony, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46), he was truly talking to His Father, not Himself. When Jesus said, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done,” (Luke 22:42), he was not talking to himself. When Jesus told his disciples that the Holy Ghost could not be with them as long as He was there, He was not being mysterious. So we do not normally use the word “incarnation” to describe Jesus’ mortal ministry. This is probably fine, but in our zeal to emphasize the father/son relationship, we might be somewhat overlooking the importance of what happened. The idea that God would become a baby and live a mortal life filled the ancient prophets with wonder. For people like Isaiah and Nephi, it was almost too much to get their minds around.

One of the things that struck ancient and modern prophets so forcibly is that when Jesus came to earth, he was not trying to avoid suffering and pain like we do. In fact, experiencing pain and suffering was one of the primary reasons He came. Of course, He came to give us a perfect example, but there was something even deeper at play. Through his life and ministry, Christ created an intimacy with us that transcends the theoretical. He suffered with us and for us. Isaiah taught: “In all their afflictions, he was afflicted.” (Isaiah 63:9). Alma taught: “…and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me.” (Alma 7: 12-13). In these fascinating verses, Alma seems to be saying that Jesus understood suffering in His head when He was presiding in the pre-mortal heavens, but He learned about suffering in a different way when He actually went through it, when He actually experienced every kind of suffering. The Spirit already knew, but Jesus suffered in the flesh so that He would know according to the flesh.

Because of the incarnation, Jesus truly understands us. He has been there. He is a God who weeps when we suffer, who truly comprehends and even feels our pain, and He truly knows how to help. Sometimes, He knows when to do nothing because that is what we need. Sometimes, He knows to give us increased capacity to carry because that is what we need, and sometimes, He relieves our burdens because that is what we need. He truly has been there and knows, according to the flesh. That is one reason we celebrate. God was not just with us in the sense that He was present on the earth, He was really with us through all our successes, failures, disappointments, sicknesses, sins, pains, and joys. We thank Jesus for all He did and for who He is.

We pray that through this Christmas season and for the rest of our lives, we may deepen our understanding and appreciation of Christ and in so doing, become more devoted followers.

Love,

President and Sister Packard 



Monday, December 16, 2013

Last post before Christmas!!

Familia!!

1st and foremost - biggest birthday shout out to my OG brother Matt Lawrence aka Mufasa. See pic. Regrets and apologies that I couldn't share it with you, or at the very least wish you a happy day on the 13th




Logistics:
Gonna be skyping from the Caseres family's home. Angel and Susanna are their names. They don't speak English. I'll have 30-40 mins and it will be sometime between 11 am and 4 pm (Salta time). Not guaranteed this timing but that'll be the most likely. Christmas will be our p day next week so this is our last contact. I'll initiate the call. Whats your user name?

Most important thing concerning Skype (this comes directly from Pres. Levrino): "You will be speaking with a set-apart representative of Jesus Christ." I don't want this to sound arrogant or anything, but it's the truth. This call is about the worst thing I can do from the perspective of the mission and being focused, but the Church lets us do it for ya'll. Here's how it'll go: We're gonna talk about the obra misional, my investigators, the ward etc. I'd love to hear about your personal spiritual growth, appreciation for the Savior etc. Sorry, but I don't want to know about worldly things. Personal/family triumphs etc. are warmly welcomed, but movies, sports, music etc - nada.

This segways nicely into my message. Read Matthew 6:33 - "Mas buscad primeramente el reino de Dios y su justicia, y todas estas cosas os seran concedidas." Today, this morning, I finished the BoM (Book of Mormon) (my first complete read in the field). I read from Oct 22 to today, solely with the focus on resisting temptation (for me, its been to think about home, past and future, etc - aka "todas estas cosas.") It's taken me 10 weeks to really integrate myself away from my life and into the mission, and my first few weeks were mentally miserable as my mind wandered. I'm super, super happy now. 



When we had the Christmas conference, when I read letters etc, I kinda got trunky (means wanting to pack up and head home). It distracts me from my calling, and neither side of my life benefits. I'll try to offer some advice for those of you who are in the world, working to not be of it. It's easy in the mission because I'm really not in the world anymore. I can testify that the happiness that results is sweet. This advice is inspired by Anna's awesome letter to me and a couple small things you (Mom) said. 

Search the kingdom of God. Serve others - serve Him. Read your scrips, say your prayers, go to church. These things need to be priority number 1. When you get tempted to watch 5 hours of Netflix instead of that 1 or 2 hours of homework you have, read your scriptures, and then take care of business. I've wasted an accumulation of months on the things of the world, and I have literally nothing to show for it.



I'll leave my testimony of the power of the Spirit in helping us focus on the kingdom of God. I made the transition, leaving behind everything, thanks to the intense Spirit in the MTC and in the field. I can't explain it, but everyday I wake up, I want to work. I can't explain why, other than I know that I have the Spirit with me super strong.

Now those of you not on a mission, saying to yourselves: "easy for you since your a freakin missionary." I invite you to revisit your baptismal covenant and remind yourselves the amount of time God promises us His Spirit when we are obedient to it. You are entitled to 24/7 if you've been baptized. If you haven't, I invite you to the font. The church is true. God lives and loves. When we serve Him, and prioritize Him and His children instead of ourselves, we will be lifted far higher than if we only focused on ourselves. To answer your question Mom, I know without a doubt that if I literally lose myself in this work for 20 more months, I will find every thing I need when I get home. When we fast (a lot more than once a month), it is always for the benefit of God's specific children here in Limache. 

To finish, I loved Brigham and Anna's letters in specific. I love you Anna. I regret not being better friends and I promise that'll change. When you feel lazy and unmotivated, serve someone else. Search the kingdom and you'll be happiest. Brigham - hahahahahahahhahaha loved the rogaine tidbit. Don't worry. Keep killing it in school and prepping for your mission. D and C 4:5 is your key. Develop those 4 attributes and strive to keep your eye single to His glory, and there will be no reason to be nervous. Faith implies action, Hope implies patience, Charity implies selflessness, and Love implies courage. You'll be so glad when you get out here, if you've devoted the time you need to to studying PMG (Preach My Gospel) and the BoM.

Love you all,

Elder Blake

Friday, December 13, 2013

Guest Post excerpt from Elder Ainge's weekly letter

 
 
"I have been studying a good amount this week about humility and just how important it is to be humble. I love the part in Alma 32 talking about humility. It is when Alma is teaching the poor people who have been kicked out of their churches, their synagogues because they don't have enough money or good enough clothing to wear. They come to Alma because they don't know how to worship God because they have nowhere to go. Alma then goes on to teach them that worshiping God isn't in the church only. You can worship God every day of the week. In every moment. At all times. He says to them that they are blessed because their poverty has made them humble. And he says they are blessed because people who are humble, look to repent and people who repent will receive mercy. and people who receive mercy and endure to the end will be saved. So, if we are compelled to be humble, that means we need to repent of our past mistakes. If we truly repent, which means if we choose to leave behind the past mistakes and truly change and have a desire to follow Christ, we will receive forgiveness. always. I love that promise. He will always forgive us when we truly repent. No matter what we have done, or how long we have been doing it, if we just decide to leave it behind and move forward and choose to do what's right and follow Christ, he will ALWAYS forgive us. Because He loves us. I love what was said by President Monson.. something like Gods love is always there for us, whether we deserve it or not... We are all imperfect and all commit errors. But God always loves us and always will forgive us if we choose to learn from our mistakes and change. It takes lots of humility to accept that sometimes. I also love what Alma says to them. Blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble. Lots of us have everything we need, temporally, and so we won't be compelled to be humble because of our exceeding poverty, but guess what if we just choose to be humble we will be even more blessed. It takes humility to accept our faults and accept to change. accept to admit that we aren't the best we can be. To be teachable and want to get better every day. Ask yourself at night before you go to bed, ¨Am I a better person today than I was yesterday?¨ And if not, repent and commit to be better the next day. That has helped me and motivated me to become a better person every day by trying to follow Jesus Christ. By trying to become more like Him in every moment. I have to repent every day. sometimes more than once a day. I'm not perfect and never will be. But i know that I'm a better person right now than I was yesterday and that's all that matters.


Love you all. Christmas is coming up, where we celebrate Christ. No better time to decide to follow Him :)"
 
Elder Ainge
(posted with permission from his mom :))

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Pictures that were on the Mission FB Page





This must be when Isaac is reading a letter that I sent to Sister Levrino for him.  I misunderstood what she was asking for so he got TWO letters - one from me and one from another parent of a missionary. He referred to this moment in his letter.
My letter made him trunky.






Monday, December 9, 2013

December 9th, 2013

Hola,

Pres changed the rule to 45 mins. Gonna be quick.

It's been a good week but I struggle a bit with patience. We're working with Anabel and Carlos Espinosa (again) but it seems like we might need a few weeks to baptize them. It's hard at times to maintain a ton of faith with the day to day roller coaster of changes, but as always my BoM studies help a ton. I'm learning how to balance patience and diligence, endurance and performance. 

3 Nephi 1:6-8  
 And they began to arejoice over their brethren, saying: Behold the time is past, and the words of Samuel are not fulfilled; therefore, your joy and your faith concerning this thing hath been vain.
 And it came to pass that they did make a great uproar throughout the land; and the people who believed began to be very sorrowful, lest by any means those things which had been spoken might not come to pass.
 But behold, they did watch steadfastly for athat day and that night and that day which should be as one day as if there were no night, that they might know that their faith had not been vain.

Background: The Nephites are waiting the sign (36 hours of light) of Christ's birth -fitting for this time of year. As they face the mockery of the unbelievers (the battle in my head), they start to doubt their faith a bit. However, they keep hoping for the sign of the glorious triumph of the coming of the Son of God. 

In verses 12 and 13, we read of the reward of their firmity. 
 12 And it came to pass that he cried mightily unto the Lord aall that day; and behold, the bvoice of the Lord came unto him, saying:
 13 Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the asign be given, and on the bmorrow come I into the world, to show unto the world that I will fulfil all that which I have caused to be cspoken by the mouth of my holy prophets.

The voice of Christ rains down and confirms the doubts and fears of the unbelievers. 

In the mission, there is a lot of pressure to baptize every week, fulfilling the mandate of Jesus Christ to go forth and baptize in all nations. 3 weeks without a baptism is killing me, but I think this is more selfish than Christ-like. I need to find the patience to accept the will and timing of the Lord, only after I've done all I can. This is where diligence comes in. 

I'm sure many of you (Matt) marvel at the schedule I put in. The simple, honest truth is that I know for a fact a manifestation of the Holy Ghost is the gift to be able to literally give every minute I have to serving the Lord, for 2 years, with hardly any thoughts of wanting to be doing something else. I marvel at the quick change I made after 8 months of ultimate laziness, and thank God everyday that I actually want to do this. It is a blessing.

Fun, non-gospel highlight: We were out trekking with a member and his freaking dog followed us like 2 miles from home. All the guys on the block were sniffing her (checking her out pretty hard). This one was all over her. This offended me, so the true defender of truth and justice in me picked up a nice sized rock. Wound up from 50 or so feet, and BOOM - head shot. The adulterer screamed and ran away. Steeeeerike out for Elder Blake. Took me back to the glory days of pitching for the Marlins in 5th grade.

Random stuff:
Christmas conference was great, and the combo of Christmas hymns and your letter Mom (Hermana Lev. told us that only a few parents wrote specific letters for their sons and daughters b/c that wasn't the original idea, and I immediately knew you would be one of the few) had me tearing up a bit. Thank you!! 

We got a member to skype from, but you guys need to make me an account and set everything up, and send me the info next week. I can't call beforehand, you have to give me a user name and password and make sure it will work. Please test it out from someone else's house because if it doesn't work, it'll just be by phone. Mom, if you have qs I'm sure you won't feel uncomfortable asking Hermana Levrino.

This first pic is me on Thanksgiving, channeling my inner-Julia as we helped an Investigator family prepare for their play. I'm painting a cloud. This would have been as the Raiders were warming up.





Receiving my gift from Elder Alvarez in the Christmas Conf. I got a mate bombilla with the inscription Salta Oeste - our zone.

 I will write more (paper letters) but you guys need to too! I still haven't received a hand written letter and its killing me.
 
BTW - no time now but could you tell dad to curtail the sports updates. I appreciate them but they do more harm than good.

 

Love ya'll

Elder Blake

Monday, December 2, 2013

Dec 2, 2013

I've got a million thoughts/feelings flying around in my head. This has easily been the hardest week to read letters and not really miss home. The first time I've been homesick this whole time. Please don't worry about me though. It seems like quite a few have the perception that I'm really down sometimes. It's impossible to not be incredibly grateful despite the roller coaster ups and downs. I'll try my best to say everything I mean, but trust that in the work of the Lord, it's impossible to feel sad. Disappointment becomes motivation and trunkiness becomes firewood that fuels the fire that burns in my heart.
Simply a shoutout to my boys in Black. Can't put my satisfaction and jubilation into words. I love all you guys. Finally...
Sounds like Thanksgiving was a blast and much needed. In case there is any doubt, Thanksgiving doesnt exist here. I said a prayer at 1 PM (kickoff time in Wellesley), but basically forgot about it until an hour ago. However, you know how much I love the minute details... rocked the dope Raiders socks Thurs in lieu of the standard all black.

This week, the numbers were even lower. We worked HARD. It stinks to finish a week of getting after it with less than what's expected. However, 1 week is nothing in the grand scheme of things and I learned a TON that I will be able to improve. Apparently Limache is one of the hardest if not the numero uno area in the mision. While this is no excuse, all signs point to an explosion at some point. My first transfer (3 baptisms in 6 weeks) was the best Limaches has had in years. Apparently the elders 2 years ago who baptized 9 in 6 months got invited to have dinner with Pres.

I'll share one of the most incredible, yet simple experiences I've ever had before I get onto the boring stuff. Saturday at 9 PM (30 mins left), we were walking along the route 9 of Limache. We were heading for a woman who we've talked with and is super bueno, hoping to teach her for the first time. Exactly as we crossed this ditch thing separating the two routes, I had the distinct impression that we should stop by Victoria's apt. I've heard all my life about "the still, small voice," but I truly had never felt it until this moment. It wasn't a voice nor anything seen. Simply a feeling, not a thought. Everyday I think thoughts about where we should go or who I should talk to, but I always feel like it's just me procuring the idea myself. This time was different. 

We arrived at her house and clapped the door. Out she walks, and she's not doing too good. She had come down with this weird infirmity and we had the opportunity to give her a blessing. As she left, she said something like "How lucky!" or "What timing!"

I had been fasting since 2 PM with the sole purpose of receiving the Espiritu mas. After a particularly horrible Thurs, we decided that we're working hard, but largely without the Spirit. What an answer to prayer and fasting. Truly a life and testimony changing experience. 

I testify to all that God lives, and that His Spirit, the Holy Ghost, exists. He is available to all and I literally hunger to be guided more. 

Bueno.

Tons of random Qs
Dad: 2 Hermanas are both gringas. Taller one died (that means finished her mission and went home) 3 weeks ago
Not sure what the address is but we hand out cards that say Barrio Inter Sindical, Salta, Calle Territorio Misiones y Cronicas. We live in Blok 37 in Limache
No idea how Xmas will be. Planning on Skype but we'll figure it out soon. 

Mom:
The ward is awesome. Every fast sunday the primary practially lines up to bear their simple testimonies. I'm starting to really love the people here.

District is me and Elder Ramirez, Elder Durrant (Idaho) and Elder Alvarez (Honduras), and 2 gringas. Us 4 live together and Elder Alvarez gets on my nerves.

Me and Elder Ramirez get along swell. I can't complain (literally not aloud) hahaha no but actually he's great.

Fellowshipping is great. CR/MAs were the only category we reached the floor in. Emmanuel, our most recent, is a boss. We're working thru his problems (tough life) but I can see his bright future. We're working to baptize his 12 year old cousin (harder life), but most of the time he wants nothing. Please pray for them specifically, as well as Anabel, who we'll baptize this week. Carlos Espinosa, who was practically gold, broke up with us 5 days before his baptism because his wife wears the pants.

Mom - Alma 41:6-7 reminded me of you, and I've had the opportunity to share it with a few menos activos and investigators, telling them about you. It has blessed lives and I know it will with you too.

Every day is different and its starting to fly. I'm grateful for the everygrowing foundation I've been blessed with that anchors me in times of good and bad. 

Love you all

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

November 25, 2013



Salutations fam and friends

wow this keyboard stinks. excuse all errors

bueno I'll start with logistics:

abso no snacks to carry - nuts etc. are super expensive. I eat mad fresh fruit tho tha makes me trunky for Gpa Bringhurst's garden. Garden stands n every corner hook me up good and cheap.

Dad - not sure if you still have a red sox 04 WS shirt but I'd love if you could hold onto it if so.

Brig/Mom - could you beg Coach D for my white 40 jersey (the old ones now I guess). That would mean the world

I'm still not getting Coop or Nate's emails

Oh yeah, please send pics of the Thanksgiving game - 52 keep your head up and be a leader!

ALso for all, I can only view photos in .jpg

sports updates are perfect, Dad

Bueno, 

Great to hear from ya'll this week!! Had kinda a tough week numbers wise but there's plenty of silver linings. A couple of pretty sure baptisms rejected us but our 2 for the next two weeks came to church and brought their families. One single mom made it thanks to the Spanish persuasion skills of ya boy (Went on splits with a member and I didn't really understand her - just said "bueno, vamonos"). Carlos Espinosa's lined up for Sat and his wife who we just met a few weeks down the road. The other is Anabel. Pray for them.

Random tidbits: Gratitude (s.o. Mrs. Pich). About the closest I could describe the rivalry between the Mormons and the Jehovah's Witnesses here would be Wellesley-Needham. Not even close to good old Turkey Day but I take what I can get. Anyways, despite this rivalry, a TJ woman shared a facebook quote with us: "What if you only had tomorrow what you thanked God for today?" Let's just say I've been praying a little longer these last few nights. 

I recently found a sick scrip that I carry around on my agenda now: Alma 37:16. It captures everything we need to be successful - obedience to the commandments, action based on them, PRAYER = "no power of earth or hell can take them from you."

Whatever's on your plate, I dare you to try this out. Forget your preconceptions surrounding religion. I promise success. 

Concerning CR/MAs (less actives etc in Spanish) - in fact, your wisdom Mom is something I've been thinking lately. It is in reality tough to focus on them b/c almost all the numbers focus on baptisms. However, we're doing it anyway. I've seen a number of families return to church these past 7 weeks, and I can tell you the future is bright. Every soul is precious!

S/o Noah - Bro, I periodically think about you and how much of a boss you are. I know we didn't have the greatest relationship, but I love you and really know you have GREAT things in store for you. You remind me a lot of myself, and I LOVE hearing about your triumphs. S/o to Keir too. 

Don't have much else to share - trying (and improving) on keeping "an eye single to the glory of God" and the work improves too. Estoy rey contento.  

GO RAIDERS

Elder Blake


Monday, November 18, 2013

November 18, 2013



Family,

I don't want to refrain from communicating to allll of my family, but I'll change it up a little bit. om - this should be a little more what you're looking for, but you should still sent it to all.

Lamentably, I don't have a profound message this week. I'll defer to copy/paste some BoM scrips I found yesterday that perfectly sum up how I feel;

 O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the atrump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people!
 Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption, that they should repent and acome unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth.
 But behold, I am a man, and do sin in my wish; for I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto me.
 Now, seeing that I know these things, why should I desire more than to aperform the work to which I have been called?
Asi es. I still struggle with stray thoughts, but we're having success and when we work, I just wanna drive the Sequoia down 95 bumping with my boys. However, for now why should I do anything more than "perform that work to which I have been called?"

Asado

Now on a day like today with a ton of great letters, thats dang freakin tough. Thoughts:

Happy b-day Tim!!!!! Loved the description of your team obstacle course. Sounds dope.

Brian - doesnt surprise me at all that the Panthers are "suddenly good." 2 words - number 59. Brig can agree with me (and of course Pich), Luke Keuchly is a BEAST. And Shark, you know I'd kill to be watching the Pats and Bs tonight in the Cave. 

Go freakin Raiders. You're killing me Mom - you left the recap to come from Dad's second hand account!!! Still, I LOVE to hear about the personal and team triumphs. I'm super happy for John Fadule and Dziama, the two stars that you mentioned. Oh how I wish I could be home to watch the Rockets shot down at the Swamp. 

PLEASE SEND PICS of some game action!!

As for me, today is the first day of transfer #2. As Shark put it, I'm one lap down in my 2 mile tryout for life. I can hear Magpiong screaming in my ear something about it being hard, and I can also see Matty being a hardo already on lap 5, steal sprinting. I think I even saw him rip his shirt off and flex his six pack. 

Pertaining to other trunky references from that past few weeks' letters: I can't wait to go to Barca with you Matt, I'm certainly planning to organize a trip to the Big House in 2015 when BYU comes to town, obviously I need to go to a game at Lambeau, and Dad & Noah - camping is weirdly one of the things I miss. Lucky. Loved the candid excerpt from Keir.

Anyways, transfer 2. The other missionaries tell me the 1st two in the field are super slow, but that the rest FLY. For now, let's hope so. This transfer has felt like literally 6 years. They tell me the mission is their home and they want nothing to do with their real home. I look at them and tell them they're crazy, in English-to be super clear. If there¡s one personal thing being this disconnected from home has taught me, its just how much I really LOVE all of you. Love gets tossed around too lightly. I've taken a lot of you for granted. Boy, I can't wait to see you all again.

Shoot, this is exactly the kind of stuff that I referred to last week as my weapons. I'm gonna bury them and focus on these next 21 months.

Right now, my biggest personal struggle exists in my relationships with other missionaries. My whole life I've feared that anything even a little direct or bold would offend someone else. Its hard to describe, but I've often sacrificed personal comfort for fear of speaking up and quizas offending. Well, this is still a problem. And guess what, its 5 times as hard to be direct and chose the right words in Spanish... 

Never fear. I've made it a goal to work on and I'm improving. Basically, I've had some small issues with Elder Ramirez doing too much of the teaching in lessons. I'm fully confident in my ability to communicate to the investigators, but his speed and lack of pauses make it tough to involve myself while not making it seem like I'm snatching every second of silence to get my words in. 

Everything's all good in Limache (note the spelling Mom lol). We baptized 3/6 weeks this transfer (Victoria finally got dunked!). I made fresh squeezed OJ, which is a killer game changer. That reminds me Dad - 

Breakfast: scrambled eggs, sauteed spinach, onions, green peppers, and grilled chicken. Chef Sack serving up a mean helping of protein every dang day. 

Lunch: Giant meal with a member. Some assortment of chicken, rice, pasta, milanesa. Had my first Auth Argentine Asado to round out the tranfer. The old Bishop, B. Flores (bosshog) cooked it up

Dinner: doesn't exist. You know those pics of people after they take a diet pill on TV? That's me with my suit pants. I'll wait until they're clown pants to snap a pic. I'm just getting started.

Had no clue there was inflation. Good on money (i think). No clue on my visa. I'm under the impression that its a non issue.

EVERYONE - I'd love any quantity of appropriate pics sent my way! I can download them on my camera.

Signing off

Love y'all

Go Raiders
Go Pats
Go Bs
Gang Love

Elder Blake


Lion King on in an investigators house (for Matt of course)

Me reinacting the best scene with our boy from Blok 3 - shawty

Friday, November 15, 2013

Familia,

Alma 24:17-18

17 And now it came to pass that when the king had made an end of these sayings, and all the people were assembled together, they took their swords, and all the weapons which were used for the shedding of man’s blood, and they did abury them up deep in the earth.
 18 And this they did, it being in their view a testimony to God, and also to men, that they anever would use weapons again for the shedding of man’s blood; and this they did, vouching andbcovenanting with God, that rather than shed the blood of their brethren they would cgive up their own lives; and rather than take away from a brother they would give unto him; and rather than spend their days in idleness they would labor abundantly with their hands.

This might be my favorite scripture right now. I'll get straight to the point. We all have a lot of weapons - temptation, shortcomings, vices etc. - things that impede us from reaching our divine potential. Essentially, we concede to these things, accepting (knowingly or not) a life of mediocrity compared to what we could be. My weapons are my thoughts. My frickin, wild running thoughts. As I've mentioned before, I walk in silence a lot. Thus, I often think about the Gang, my family, BYU, the life I want to live, etc. It's easy, but it serves no purpose. Whatever your weapons might be, search them out. Let's bury them together.

I've been trying really hard to control my thoughts, thinking only in the missionary work here in Limache. 2 days this week, we worked so hard that I hardly thought about anything else. The other 5 were to some degree or another, mediocre. 

Another thing I tend to do a lot is compare myself to other people. In the mission, I tend to hear about another missionary's success and baptisms, and bust myself up over not being on the same level. This is a weapon. However, in the mission and in life, we often compare ourselves to other good, sometimes great people, and concede a habit or justify a vice that they do, thinking "hey, this highly respected person doesn't do this, and he's doing great. I don't need to do that either." Essentially, we take the example of someone else settling for less than greatness, and justify our own concessions. What seems to be a plague in la Mision Argentina Salta is missionaries settling for good numbers, accepting that greatness cannot be achieved, and often times even counseling other younger missionaries that it is impossible to supersede such "standards of excellence." This debilitating cycle destroys faith, which makes failure inevitable.

I believe to overcome the harsh effects our weapons can have on others and others on ourselves in terms of reaching our potential, is to disregard almost completely the achievements and let downs of others. Obviously there are exceptions, but I've found that if we have faith in ourselves and focus on our own personal improvement, anything is possible. 

I haven't even begun to touch on the beautiful writing that Alma uses to summarize the interactions between brothers. If you know me, you know the word 'brother' carries enormous weight and value in my life. I have more than 4 brothers. When I read verse 18, I immediately think of the Gang. It's not like we're actually a gang and have shed the blood of anyone else (literally, that is - we've wreaked plenty of havoc and left our mark in other ways) or ever needed to literally give our lives up for one another. However, the sentiment of selflessness is there. Rather than take from a brother, I will give.

The recipe - Sacrifice, Selflessness, and Work. Simple, yet profound.

New Friend (still not Finn)

Speaking of work, here's a day in the life of Elder Blake (No down time, Matt):

7-7:30 - get after it with some pushups/pullups
7:30-8:30 - shower and eat some eggs (I'm getting jacked)
8:30-9:30 - Personal study (BoM)
9:30-1 - Get after it in the streets. Teach lessons. 
1-2 - Giant lunch with/made by a member
2-3 - Comp study
3-4 - Spanish study
4-9:30 - More getting after it. Only now, we're fighting the siesta. Everyone is fricken asleep until 7
9:30-11 Plan, journal, hit the sack

S/O to the Magpiong family - stinks to hear about Jane's situation. You're in my prayers.

Logistics Mom - 

Email>Handwritten Letter>DearElder - I PRINT MY EMAILS. Please write all you can. Dear Elders take a fricken thousand years to arrive for some reason. I'd love to see the handwriting of my favorite people though.

I have good sunscreen but I'd love a few sticks of our go-to face sunscreen
Love the letters - Dad send me all the talks you can. Super happy for Noah and the babysitting. Noah - SAVE YOUR MONEY! The things you'll buy right now will end up becoming trash pretty soon. Save it!

Love ya'll

Elder Blake
Kinda embarrassed I forgot to mention we baptized this bro named Emmanuel (16). Bosshog (has a mini mullet too)


Evolution of a Dope Sunset


Monday, November 4, 2013

November 4, 2013

Familia, 

Almost all of my favorite movies, tv shows, and books (of old, but then again, the Good Book and the LdM  too), are centered around the theme of good vs. evil, light vs. darkness, joy vs. pain, faith vs. despair. A huge part of my life - sports - and specifically football, revolves around this struggle as well. Guess what, the mission is too. Life is this way. 



I can hear the voices of Coaches Magpiong and Davis screaming in my ear the word "adversity." Every day, walking these streets of good ol Argentina, I can hear them yelling this word. It's a condition in which sports are arguably the ultimate teacher. I can't express enough my gratitude for the lessons I´ve learned about handling adversity from sports, and specifically from these two fine coaches, BEFORE entering the real world. 

The conclusion I'm continuing to reach, both from practical experience and accounts in the Book of Mormon, is that the only true counter to adversity is faith. Faith is the belief in things not seen. Faith breeds and implies work. Faith without works is dead. The Red Sox survived and ultimately triumphed in 2004 riding the wave of faith. Keep the Faith. It sounds like they just barely finished doing the exact same thing. (Reading the account of the celebration from my boy Matty O was heartbreakingly awesome. Oh how I'd love to have seen Jonny Gomes place the trophy at the Marathon finish line.) Faith is the reason we beat Natick last year. One year ago yesterday is a day I'll forever remember. The week leading up to it, the morning of the game, obviously tearing my ACL too, were all different. Faith fueled the fire. 

The thing with faith is that it's freakin hard to harness all the time. There will always be demons of adversity laboring to destroy our faith. Una pelea de la mente. At times, it's easy to see the hope on the horizon and keep pressing on, but at other times its pretty darn easy to feel you're going no where but down. 

Another hard thing about maintaining faith is that we often wait for a tragedy, a misstep, or for the clouds to weigh down a little too much, to exercise our faith. We let something like the Marathon fiasco be the source that pushes us. This is great. Produces results too. But the next season, or the next go round, that foundation is gone. 

We need to plant our seeds of faith in something simple, true, and concrete. Provide your faith with plenty of room to establish firm roots for those tough times. Then, nurture it. Feast upon the words of Christ, serve others, go out and let your faith be tested! Members of the church will recognize this metaphor straight from the Book of Mormon. Others that are not members can marvel at the beautiful, simple advice. Faith requires foundation, effort, and patience, just like a tree. It's not gonna sprout from a seed to a tall oak in a day. However, there are people that have come before us,  from whom we can learn and adapt our trees of faith around. 

The ultimate message of hope that we can take from this understanding of faith is that the potential of your faith is infinite, and thus your potential as a human being and a son or daughter of God is infinite. As we strive to improve every day, we arrive that much closer to perfection, to a firm, tall oak. 

This past week, our faith took a pretty big one, two punch. Friday night, Maximileano - one of our best investigators (Baptismal Date = Nov. 16)- got sent to jail. Again. He had just barely done a 10 year stint. We don't really know anything else. Also, Victoria, our golden investigator, sent us a text the morning of her baptism: "Don't come to my house anymore. I'll find you and return the Book of Mormon." Nothing more. We still haven't been able 
to track her down, and we still have no clue what happened. 

It was hard to take. Not terribly, however, because of our somewhat young oaks of faith. Control what you can control, trust in God, and WORK. That's the recipe. That's faith. Granted, I sound a lot more accomplished/wise than I really am. I know the recipe, but I sure don't follow it all the time. The invitation is out there for all of us. Plant the seed, water it, and patiently watch your faith, and thus happiness and satisfaction, grow. We learn from Nephi that perspective can give us a much needed boost, but even this motivation isn't enough: " 50 And I said unto them: aIf God had commanded me to do all things I could do them. If he should command me that I should say unto this water, be thou earth, it should be earth; and if I should say it, it would be done.
 51 And now, if the Lord has such great power, and has wrought so many miracles among the children of men, how is it that he cannotainstruct me, that I should build a ship?" (1 Nephi 17)  I personally marvel and am even a bit jealous of this incredible faith. Today, the invitation is to look at your problems in the perspective of the universe. Realize that God can do ANYTHING, and wants to do anything for us, His children. The deciding factor, that which bridges the gap, is our faith. Regardless of the condition of your oak tree, I challenge you and I to trust in God today to help us with our tasks. The promise, contingent on our faith, is that we will be able to build a boat. (read the link) Maybe not today, but as we nourish the faith, the boat will slowly take form. Dare to be great. Have faith that your potential is infinite. I know yours is. Godspeed.


Logistics:
Go Sox. I was teased and tormented Monday night in the home of a less active family as they flipped through the tv channels and stopped at Game 5 for a brief moment. The tv literally felt like a window to my old life. Oh well. Mas tarde.

Congrats to the Raiders despite a tough loss. Season ain't over yet tho. Beat Needham.

I'm so super lucky to have all of you as my support. As I sometimes long for what once was and what will be, I think about the promises of the glory of Heaven, and the Celestial Kingdom specifically. The ultimate promise is that we can live with our families forever in a perfected, exalted state. We often diminish the value of the word forever. I think everyone of my friends that wrote me this week included this sentiment in one form or another. Forever is truly remarkable, and undoubtably is a part of true glory. I can't imagine just how blissful this will be, but I have to believe it will include you friends (Gang Love) (and football). 

Happy B-Day Ned. You were in my dream the night before 11/3. We balled up hard.

I am seriously homesick for New England's four seasons. I'm done with 100 degree Halloweens (not big at all. The young changitos run around but there's hardly anything different. I got the idea that there's a lot of evil associated with it here. The members were surprised that we have halloween parties at the church). Although ya'll may hate the 5pm darkness and being able to see your breath, I'm convinced it's all about juxtaposing the warmth and brightness of summer. Be grateful. I miss it. 

Tim and Shark - you already know I only rock the Birkenstocks every freakin day. I miss the Cave, Shark, Finn, the whole crew a ton. To my pleasant surprise, I even found some of Finn's hairs stuck in the sole. Kinda gross, but my sentimental side kicked in and made me love them that much more. 

Shout out to the Bill family. You're in my prayers, especially Alex. Stay strong, and know you're very loved. 

Mom, I truly did laugh out loud at the stories of the 1%-ers etc. Brigham is spot on. A Toyota is a luxury vehicle in my neighborhood. Everyone drives stick. Quite a few people drive (the sickest) 50 year old trucks that I think Grandpa Bringhurst probably drove. It's evident that a lot of blood, sweat, and tears have gone into preserving the same mode of transportation between generations. Finally, its a common occurence to see a young family of 4 crammed on a little moped like Evan Callahan's. Apparently in Tucuman they can fit up to 7. I'm so grateful for the Sequoia. You better never sell it! We're truly blessed, tempororally of course, but more than anything spiritually. 

Don't know which pics are which but heres the scoop. 
 
 
Cute Pastor Ademan puppy is dope, but nothing like Finn. 
 
 
They serve Gatorade in glass bottle and 10 year old logos here. 
 
 

 
Went ahead and bought my own knife - ain't nobody messing with me now. Don't worry. The knife and slingshot are basically just manifestations of my childhood in Texas that were dirt cheap so I had to buy them of course. 
 
 
Finally, the clouds/mountains here are sooooooooo sweet. Anna's camera doesn't do them much justice though. 
 
 

Finally, Christmas package list:
1. Tons of family pics etc. printed out
2. Contacts - send the ones you ordered
3. PLEASE try and gather as much football film as you can from my 4 years in HS. Jim Sarni and Coach Davis and the Wellesley Channel probably. Obviously don't send them but I don't want to run out of time
4. Handwritten testimonies from Mom, Dad, and the Grandparents (individually would be great)
5. A Quarter from 1994
6. Calendar with pics of Wellesley or Boston (4 seasons)
7. Mini foam roller - ask Jesse Dimick
8. BBQ chicken rub
9. .20 mm architect pens, black ink (2 or 3)

Others:
Cranberry/dark chocolate trail mix
Annie Shells
Homemade food
pen drive w/ contemporary style church music
peanut butter


Sorry to everyone I didn't get a chance to write today. I'm already over an hour O.o
Love, 
Elder Blake






--

Monday, October 28, 2013

October 28, 2013

Dearest friends and family,

I´ll start with our investigators:

Victoria - gonna baptize her Saturday. Golden investigator. Reading the LdM (Libre de Mormon) on her own (randomly chose Jacob 5 as her first chapter ever hahahah). Super prepared.

Emmanuel - 15 year old kid who is super friendly and willing to act, at least it seems. He was on a fast track for the 9th of Nov until we saw him smoking something a little stronger than your average cigarette on Sat. He´s been hiding from us ever since and didn´t come to church yesterday. Pray for him. We´re gonna find him and help him, but we need all the help we can get!

Maxi - Boss. Hog. Got out of jail 3 weeks ago and is practically jumping into the waters of baptism. Problem is he works basically 10000 hours a week and we didn´t find him this week until Saturday, just randomly walking on the street. Nov. 16 is his date. Super willing and shows a lot of faith. Maybe not the most educated in the world and I wonder at times if he understands what we´re teaching him. 

These are our big three. Now brief story time. We received a reference and went and clapped this family's door at 9pm (1/2 hour before we call it a night - side note, our schedule is 30 minutes later than the standard missionary 6:30-10:30 because the culture here is one of laziness. Everyone lives like a teenager - stay up all night, sleep in, take a 2 hour nap in the afternoon. Best part, we missionaries still have to get up early and don´t get to nap). Anyway, someone opened the door and motioned to us to wait, so we did. 5 minutes pass and I give another super strong clap. Out walks a 40 or so year old man with his 1 year old son walking in one of those circular baby things (walker) behind him. Seems normal until he pulls out a 10 inch David Bowie hunting knife and starts to unsheath it. "Se va" he says (Directly translated - you leave. What he really meant - get lost before I stab you). Honestly, I was pretty scared, and then pretty embarrassed afterwards. My initial reaction was just to walk away, and I started to back away. My comp, however, asked him if we could share a message about Jesus Christ. "se VA." As I walked away, I regretted not standing stronger. I´m a servant and representative of Jesus Christ. Faith and fear cannot coexist. I wish I would have told him "no va a hacer nada. Sabemos que usted es un hijo de Dios, y estamos aqui a ayudarle a vivir con su Papรก otra vez." Well, I didn´t. Lesson learned. Authority comes with the calling, but power comes with faith. Watch. It´s coming. 

S/o to Rory for the email. Keep doing your thing. Love hearing from you.
Everyone else that I haven't been able to write back, I'm thinking about you and your letters are MUCH appreciated.

Also s/o to Jesse Dimick for everything. You rock.

My message for this week comes from 1 Nephi 16, (Book of Mormon) and comes from an intense study I have commenced to help me reconcile and pack away thoughts and yearning for you all, my home land. I encourage ALL to read this chapter. Basically, the conclusion I reached (surface level) is that we all must enter our own personal "wildernesses" in order to really grow and progress. This takes many forms, mine being the mission. Don´t get me wrong, I love this work. But I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't be more comfortable in the good old USA . Nephi and his family embark into the literal wilderness. It sucks. In the wilderness, we have 2 choices. Good attitude or bad attitude. Attitude is altitude. Because you know what? It´s almost certainly gonna get worse before it gets better. Adversity is inevitable. For Nephi, it was a broken bow. and thus now way to feed his family. Right now for me, its the knowledge that my brother and best friend is suffering. Literally, ACL surgery is the most pain I've ever experienced. But the benefit of a good attitude, coupled with the lesson of Nephi's eventual victory, is that with the help of our Father in Heaven, our wilderness will be bearable, and the result of having endured: indescribable joy. That's what I'm working for right now. Literally, it's to bring this knowledge and assurance to the people of Limache, Salta, Argentina. Long term, I'm working towards that day in 2 years when I see ya'll again, and 3 years when I see 52 again. "There must needs be opposition in all things." If we don't know pain and discomfort, how can we recognize bliss?

Now for some logistics:
P-day (preparation day - every Monday) is a literal renewal of motivation and energy. To be able to hear about how things are in my other life is incredibly satisfying. 

I'm gonna buy sunscreen, but its way expensive. Might need some more money later. 

Could you email me some family pictures?

Also, could you try hard to find some different pictures/paintings of Isaac and Abraham at the alter and email them to me?

Please specify to everyone that I print my emails and read them throughout the day before I write!! Don´t hold back. Email is the fastest and easiest way to communicate!!!

I'll send you a list of stuff I'd like in a package next week.

Pic:
Wall next to my bed with dope quote and my boys. Family pics are bookmarks in my scrips :)Inline image 1

Love ya'll,

Gang love
Go Raiders
Keep the Faith

Elder Blake
Julia here: Here's the quote from the pic.  Jeffrey R. Holland is one of our church leaders (one of our 12 Apostles, to be more precise).  He gives the MOST amazing talks.  Look him up on youtube or your favorite search engine.  It will be worth your time!) : 

“The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead; we remember that faith is always pointed toward the future.”


Jeffrey R. Holland, Created for Greater Things

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

October 21, 2013

Family and Friends,

Life is great. I'm adjusting perfectly fine to the newness of it all. There are dogs everywhere you look (in fact, there is one climbing on my back in this cyber cafe as I write!) but in general they aren't bad. Also, its not an uncommon occurence for someone to scream ¨hello¨or ¨how are you¨ immediatley upon seeing my white skin and light brown hair. Quite fun. The only thing right now, apart from the language of course, is the killer heat. Must have hit 100 yesterday. I'm sure you aren't loving the cool fall air but know I miss it dearly! I can't say I'm looking forward to spending Christmas in a puddle of sweat!

As for the Raider Card story Mom, you'd be surprised how similar Raider Cards and the mission is! Let's just say I get rejected my fair share! Side note, s/o to the Superkos for hooking Brigham up!

Your questions:
1. I would love if Brigham used my PFs! Write a 40 and 52 or something on them!

2. I´m looking in to contacts here. It's unsurprising very difficult to talk prescription and length of supply in Spanish and in pesos! I'm gonna hold up but I'll let you know when I get around to it.

3. PLEASE make a binder of my emails!

4. Keep the blog open! It will be far more effictive that way. 

5. Doug sent me an email that I need you to help me with. I'll forward it to you!

Side note for DJ - Still haven't had a traditional steak. Only thing I've really had is milanesa, chicken breast, empanadas, potato salad, and rice. Every meal is some combo of that.

Hardest thing right now is not the language. I can communicate and understand well enough in lessons. On the street, its coming. The hardest thing these last few days has been motivation/distraction. Nothing major but this p-day has already been a huge blessing in terms of getting some real world info and putting my purpose back in perspective. Will admit though, knowing Brigham is under the knife as we speak and will be suffering these next few weeks isn't easy. I'll address that in his email.

Last side note, love the sports updates! Go Sox! Perfect amount of info, though I would like to know how the Pats are doing. 
Not a lot of time but I wanna share some experiences from this week. I read a talk from Elder Bednar, in Spanish, in the Liahona (a church magazine in Spanish). We have every Liahona from this last decade! Anyway, the theme was that through the healing power of the atonement, we can be lifted to overcome and withstand anything. God isn't gonna lift our burdens, but rather strengthen us so that we can lift them! How great a knowledge! There were some great scrips from Mosiah and Alma but I don't remember them! Brigham - *D&C 103:36 - recovery will be tough but you can get through it!
*Doctrine and Coventants (Mormon scripture) 'All victory and glory is brought to pass unto you through your diligence, faithfulness, and prayers of faith.'

Mom and Dad, very cool experience you had with Michelle L. Had a very similar one with an investigator named Victoria. We've been teaching her for only a week now. She is super golden and willing, but doesn't feel prepared or sufficiently changed to be baptized. I shared Alma 7:15-16  with her and she accepted a date for this Saturday!  
(from the Book of Mormon) Alma 7:15-16
15 Yea, I say unto you come and fear not, and lay aside every sin which doth easily beset you, which doth bind you down to destruction, yea, come and go forth, and show unto your God that ye are willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments, and witness if unto him this day by going into the waters of baptism.
16 And whosoever doeth this, and keepeth the commandments of God from thenceforth, the same will remember that I say unto him, yea, he will remember that I said unto him, he shall have eternal life, according to the testimony of the Holy Spirit, which testifieth in me.
Not a lot of time, but the Spirit was strong! Michelle, you are ready now!
Looking Sunburned :(

Sorry - I can't figure out how to rotate this.

Bathroom

Bedroom

Study Area
See 2 Nephi 26:24 'He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the , even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not be partakers of his salvation.'

Finally, as you can see from the pics, I had my first baptism Saturday! Sadly the attendence consisted of 6 missionaries, 1st counseler of the bishopric, and the relief society pres. Regardless, it was a really cool experience! 

Hopefully I haven't set the bar too high for deep, profound emails! Can't think of much else to say. I've reached the end of the honeymoon stage - time to roll up my sleeves and get to work for the next 22 months!

Love you

Raider Pride and Gang Love for life

Elder Blake