Elder Isaac Blake

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

Monday, December 30, 2013

December 30, 2013


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.


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.


President and Sister Packard 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Last post before Christmas!!


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

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


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. 


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. 

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