Elder Isaac Blake

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

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Last of 2014

Hey fam,

Thanks for your letters. They moved P-Day back to Wed this week because of the new year, and I've been dying to write you since we skyped. Don't have a ton of time, so I hope I remember everything I wanted to say.

Brig, loved talking to you in Spanish and I LOVE that you're really assimilating to the culture. Like I've said, never speak or even think in English, and you'll be great. From what I could tell, you really do understand pretty much everything. I think what's tough for you is the same thing that's tough for me - pronunciation and speaking. Keep immersing yourself, but especially with the talking out loud etc. In all that you say, if though it'll be awkward, slow down and really accentuate every vowel, that way when you start speaking faster, you'll be losing your gringo accent. Try reading the LdM in Spanish out loud for Idioma, if you aren't already. 

Dad, again, sorry about what I said about your Spanish. It was stupid. I loved your letter titled "Choosing Everything." Keep up the good work. I'm learning a lot about reproving with sharpness and then showing the increase of love. A big key is having love in the first place. I can say that almost always, instead of tearing into someone, I tend to be a wimp and not say anything at all. I need to work on courage to speak up and correct with love. Can't lie, I'm jealous of the weather - we're consistently around 40-45 degrees Celsius here in good ole Santiago. 

Mom, thanks for your tidbits. I'm pleased to have been able to talk with you last week, and I'm glad it made you happy. I was SOOOO nervous when I called in the AM from the phone, not sure why. Maybe because I love y'all and you didn't pick up the 1st few times. It was weird hearing a buzon de voz (hahah i think they say caller ID or something) in English. I feel bad that me and Brig were losers the 1st time we went to the K's house and met the Kerrs. That's wicked cool about being a Patriarch. It's a calling that fascinates me.

I wish I would have closed my mouth more so it was more of an interaction, when I get excited or am happy, I really run my mouth (ask like ALL of my comps) ahahahha. 

This week and 2 days have been really fun and rewarding - we've been contacting like locos. Found a great family contacting (see my other letter). I LOVE this work and am really starting to be filled with love for my comp and the area. Before the call, I was kinda scared that maybe in August, I wouldn't really feel like going home, like it's be something normal, kinda sad. Yes it'll be sad but after seeing your faces and hearing your voices, I've gotta buckle down so I don't get trunky. Holy Cow, a mission FLIES. Can't freakin wait to see y'all and see the Gang, but I promise I'll give my whole soul these last months. Brig, DISFRUTE.

Hey one last quick note - we're helpinng converts on FamilySearch.org, and I checked my own family tree and there's nothing for Antone's parents and so forth. What's the story there. Also, quick shoutout to Gma and Gpa - Grandpa, I forgot to wish you a happy b-day. LOVE YOU both sooo much, keep going strong. I'll be down to visit A LOT, when I'm back at BYU.

Alright, that's everything, 

Choose the right, love everyone!

Elder Blake
 









 
 
 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Dec 22, 2014

Hey fam and friends,

This week was really pretty good. On Tuesday, we had our Christmas Zone Conference. We basically had to stay up until 2am on Monday waiting for the APs to sleepover. That killed me - I was dead all day, but somehow persevered through the fatigue and we rounded up some soda, ice cream, and 420 empanadas to feed the hungry elders and sisters. In the afternoon, the APs worked with us (divide and conquer our area) and I went with E' Almond from California. He's really cool and a really good missionary. Taught me a lot by his example - it's important to slow down and talk ccccllllleeeeeaaaarrrrrllllyyyyyyyy, so the people understand and can feel the spirit. We contacted a lot of people - I'm trying to revive the spirit of Hablar con Todos with E' Vera. ABRI LA BOCA!!!

Wed, I went to Ejercito Argentino on splits. Learned a lot about correcting with love and love in general. My comp said something that I loved, that really helped me in my companionship and will help a ton when I'm married: "True love is loving someones defects as well as their virtues."  Analyze that.

There isn't a ton of progress in the area, but we've got a family that's reactivting themselves and we'll be working a lot with Miriam and her daughters and her partner Victor Manuel. Pray for them! 

I'm ticked right now because I cant send pics, but yesterday we had a living Nativity in the Stake Center, complete with a live actor for the baby jesus. Guess who were 2 of the angels that appeared to the shepherds!! We were! Hahaha it was way fun.

Alright, love you all, merry Christmas!

Elder Blake

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

White Christmas

Hey fam!
This week in Santiago has been really good. I love my new comp and the area is great. I already love the culture and people of Santiago. Elder Vera is from Colorado - he's 6 months older than me in real years and mission time. He's way chill and kinda wierd like I am - we make a good duo. From the first day, he's been teaching me by example what it really means to SERVE. We went to the grocery store last week and when he saw that the lines were moving slowly, he went to the register and volunteered to bag groceries for the people. I followed and it was a great experience. We then cut a less active members "grass" with machetes (see pics) and we're just trying to lose ourselves in the lives of the members, people, and missioneries here in Santiago.
He told me and it's been a bit evident that he struggles a bit with organization, memory, balancing a big load etc. He's way easy going and sometimes it means that people or tasks are forgotten. Luckily, he's way humble and open and told me he wants to improve there, and I'd consider organization one of my strengths (shout out to mom for the semi-obsessive compulsive gene!!) We're gonna clean things up and as I get to know the members a little better we're gonna get the Autonomia train up to full speed!
This branch is small and struggling - however, the few members and leaders that we have are really excited and willing to work. It's gonna be a fun little project to elevate the branch.
Bueno, here in Santiago, I think it might be the hottest place on earth. Yesterday, it hit 40 degrees C, and they say it'll hit 50 in Jan. Pray for us, but especially the sisters in our zone! They're freakin warriors (4 of them had to suffer the monthy fast yesterday in an apartment without a fan or AC).
Ok so my time is up but a quick experience - Sat in my morning prayer I asked God what he wanted to me to do that day. He told me we should get out and talk with everyone, invite them to learn more about Jesus. Well, we found 2 great families that accepted baptisimal invites - we're gonna be working a ton here!
Last few logistics:
Ma, I've been buying souveniers a bit, but also stuff for the work (backpack, watch), paying for packages, buying gifts for converts, and paying for extra food and taxis etc. I'm gonna go frugal now. I'll let you know when/if I need more.
I'd love it if you guys wrote me your initial reactions to my emails so I don't just feel like I'm writing a blog for the public - let me know what you think!

Dad, keep praying and studying in Español!
Brigham, read Alma 17:9 when you get down. Your mission will go as you want it to go, regardless of your comps, if you LOVE, and trust in God.
Mom, can you research a few bands for me (I think they'd be appropriate to listen to here, but I wanna see who they are and what they believe etc)
The Lower Lights
Rend Collective
An album called "Nearer"
Do what you can and let me know!!
Love E Blake





Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Welcome to Santiago

Hey fam,

Surprise! I'm here in a new area, new zone, new provincia! Santiago del Estero! It's the southern most provincia en the mission, the only I hadn't before known. Oh how I'm gonna miss Parque Guillermina and the wonderful people there - it was a super quick stay of 6 weeks but we worked our butts off and got to see the fruits this weekend. I'm gonna send a few pics so you can see them too. Had a missionaries dream - 9 baptisms in one day! It was incredible, especially considering the miracles we saw to bring them to pass. I'm sooo happy for the Lobo and Diaz families, as well as Jessica Quinteros, but am also pretty darn bummed to leave so quickly - the work is just getting started!

Monica Lobo and 3 of her kids got baptized, but we're just now starting to work with Julio (dad) and their 16 year old son Rodrigo. PRAY FOR THE LOBOS - a family truly special with an infinite, eternal potential for happiness. Last night, I left my final message with them - we challenged Julio to set the tone for the fam and he accepted a baptismal date for Dec 27. They're gonna prepare to head to the temple. 

Then, there's Eva Beltran and 3 of her grand kids, Nahuel, Maira, and Franco Diaz. Eva is rock solid - friends with all the Relief Society and goes every Sunday. The kids aren't as solid, but the grand hope is in their parents. Their dad (I've mentioned him before) is Jose, and he's such a boss. He wants to get married and baptized - really one of the elect, in my eyes. The keystone will be Rosanna, his partner and the mother. PRAY FOR HER AND THE WHOLE FAMILY! I also left a parting message last night - challenging each and every one of them to be doers of the word and not hearers only! They also have a sister, 15 year old Susana, that wants to be baptized - such great potencial for an eternal family there as well.

Man I'm gonna frickin miss them, but boss hog Elder Philpot is gonna take care of them - he's staying as the DL and is gonna wreak havoc in Tucuman. 

Aside from those 2 fams, we found another INCREDIBLE family yesterday - it was a referral from another area, really a gift from heaven. Cecilia and Pablo are a relatively young couple that is looking to pay tithing but don't know which Church to go to to pay it. Huh. I think we can help with that. We went yesterday with a recent convert (more than anything by chance that he came) that turned out to be an all-star for this fam. He answered questions about converting from Catholicism, paying tithing, etc. Incredible. This young couple is a bit lost, just looking for somewhere to put their faith so that their fam can be happy. They asked us if it's bad of them to open their corner store on Sundays because the Bible says we shouldn't work on Sundays - we reaffirmed what the 10 commandments say and they said, "Ok, we're gonna close on Sunday and go to Church!" YEEE. We gave them a LdM and he started reading the intro and says, "wow, this is awesome!" I died pretty much. Then, Pte. Chaparro called in the middle of the lesson (given that it was the last day of the transfer, it was 99% sure that it was because someone was gonna get switched) and so as we said goodbye to this great fam, I prepared myself to just hear about their conversion from Philpot. 

We left the lesson and I called Pte - he gave me the news: Elder Blake to Santiago del Estero with Elder Vera (from Colorado). This gave us time to say goodbye and leave the final message. It's been a magnificent 6 weeks, and I'm gonna miss the heck out of this place, but I trust in the Lord and trust in Pte - I'll go where you want me to go.

A few other highlights - Friday we did splits with the ZLs to do the 9 baptismal interviews. After Elder Knudsen did the 4 Diaz interviews, we went to his chapel and the 2 of us did 3 interviews for another area. I interviewed the father of a family that got baptized on Sat - this dude is legit, such a boss. He told me of his conversion and the long hard road of repentance, and I could feel his sincerity. That's what this is all about. Changing lives, opening the doors to the Celestial Kingdom. 

Last night I packed until 2:30 am and we got up at 5:30. I took off from the terminal around 7 and by 10 I was in the Santiago terminal completely alone for a good 10 mins. Huh. Luckily, my comp showed up and we headed back to the apt. The apt is really really good - we live the 2 of us, there's air conditioning etc and everything. 

Santiago is like Arizona - don't worry mom, we're gonna lather up real good and I'll be rockin my sombrero all summer. Nothing like 125' fahrenheit to get you in the Christmas spirit! Feliz Navidad! I really like my comp so far - he's got 3 months left on his ticket so I might finish him off. We're gonna get to work here in our zone and are looking to raise the bar!

I'm soooo grateful for all of you. Phil and I decided to only give thanks in our prayers on Thursday and it was a great experience. I rocked my Raider tie and Raider socks, but unfortunately looks like the ball didn't bounce our way this year. Bummer.

Well, love you all tons! Send letters, send pics, send love!

Remember this Christmas season that He is the Gift, the most important of all the gifts. God sent His Son.

Elder Blake
 



 



 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Blow Pops and Waterfalls

Hey dearest people,

This week has been pretty darn good - full of learning experiences and miracles!

I'm writing today because yesterday we had to come to Salta to do paperwork for Philpot's visa - a much needed vacation. 

We're constantly working with 3 fantastic families - Quinteros (part member), Borquez/Diaz (a humongous fam with like 20 people living under the same roof) and Lobo (9 in total, we're teaching principally the mother and the 4 youngest). I really love these people and we've seen miracles and progess in all of them since I got here. 

This week, Monica's husband had to have an emergency surgery on his 'vesicula' it's near the stomach but we have no idea what it is. She's been busy but her kids are progressing slowly. They're WICKED shy but apparently read and pray daily. This weekend was Stake Conf, and with the chapel a bit farther from their house, I was really worried they'd flop. Sunday AM I woke up suddenly around 6 because I had a dream that Monica came up with some lame excuse. Just got on my knees half asleep and prayed for them. Well, they showed up!!!!! It was awesome. I was really impressed with them - 2 hours straight without Angry Birds or sleeping, they sat there. I think the game-changer was... Blow Pops.

Shoutout to Uncle David and my Mom for coming up big with 2 packages, including Blow Pops from mom for 'the kids I meet.' Saturday, Pres came for interviews and brought the packages as a surprise. We talked a lot about how I can be a better leader with the Sisters - I learned a ton this week about the importance of appropriately showing love and appreciation for them. Surrounded by men in football and in the mission has sadly shielded me a bit and I'm kinda starting to realize just how sensitive women are. It's really hard to motivate them without making them feel bad (especially when they're really struggling in their areas). Pres gave me some sound advice - talk to them like you'd talk to your mom (and I'd add, how you'd talk to her right now being where you are, not how you did when you lived with her... -- haha ma I'm sorry for all the headaches I've given you, I'm trying to be better every day and I sure do love you). 

Running out of time -- Saturday in the Priesthood Session of Stake Conference we got there a bit late. Pres Chaparro came down from the stand after the first talk and went back door santa on me - he whispered in my ear 'can you give a 5 minute talk about preparing for a mission?' Hahaha I was kinda nervous but I think it was pretty good. I keep loving public speaking and I still haven't given a talk with anticipation of more than 1 hour. A good life skill. 

So yesterday, we hit up a waterfall. It's safe to say I never wanna do anything like this on Pday (preparation day) ever again. Nobody really knew how to get there, and it was kinda just like 'let's say a prayer and then head where the wind blows.' After 2 hours through the South American jungle, we found it. Ate a quick lunch and wet our heads, then headed back. Holy cow, I've never done anything so hard in my life - harder than any 2-a-day or summer workout. We had to climb the side of the mountain holding on to trees and branches, and then when we got to level ground, one hardo Zone Leader looked at his watch and decided that we needed to run back to the bus stop. Took us from 10-1 to get there, and at 1:30 we had to make it back by 2:30 to catch the 2:30 bus. With him yelling 'vamos vamos,' we ran down the mountain (30 mins), then 15 mins down a bike path (walking and jogging). We made it to the main road at 2:20. With all the strength I've ever summoned, we took a short cut and scaled the back side of a dam - pure boulders. I first thought, "Pain is temporary (Matt)" then, "My pioneer ancestors did this every day..." and finally when I thought I was gonna faint, "Jesus Christ had to bear his own cross on the path to Golgotha, and he suffered pain 1000 times worse in Gethsemane." I reallly don't know how, but I dug deep thru the cramps and ran the last 10 yards up the boulder hill. I prayed harder that hour than in my entire life. God sent us a man in a truck that took us to the bus station and we made it at 2:35. Increible. INCREIBLE. 

Well, the bus delayed an hour and a half (not sure how I feel about that but I know how my legs feel, still can't walk.)

Luckily, we got a nice tender mercy of the Lord - Had to head to Salta on a 4 hour bus ride at 6 which is why I'm writing today. Best part? The seats reclined and they served dinner. 

I know God lives and that He sent His Son. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the path to happiness and it has been restored thru a prophet in these latter days. I know the Book of Mormon is true. 

Elder Isaac Blake
Sunday night tired face

Hiking in Tucuman




Monday, November 17, 2014

I know that the Book of Mormon is true

Hey friends and fam,

The subject is inspired by a few of the week's events - first of all, I finished the LdM (Book of Mormon) this week! Finished my first time studying it in Castellano - took me almost 11 months!!! That's what I'll call "feast upon the words of Christ." Well, as some may know and Brigham more than anyone can attest, I tend to talk and walk in my sleep. My boy Elder Philpot is learning that the hard way - hahahaha. Well, a few days ago, according to him, I sat up in bed in the middle of the night and said, "Hey Elder, I know that the Book of Mormon is true, y sé que si usted lo lee, sentirá la influencia de Dios en su vida." Hahahah half in Eng, the other half in Spanish. Had some powerful experiences with this book this week, and they stayed with me into the night O.o.

I remember back in December of '13, Dad you sent me an email talking about some personal study in Moroni 10. If I remember correctly, you basically conclude that at the end of the day, the salvation has to be something individual, personal. If I'm right, my studies will offer a fresh, different take, given the great advantage of comparing 2 languages. 

 32 Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his gracsufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
 33 And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through theshedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant othe Father unto the remission of your sinsthat ye become holywithout spot.
In Spanish, Moroni is talking here in the 'vosotros' form, which translates to "you all, y'all" or a group in essence. While in English this appears to be an individual invitation, I'd like to propose that the salvation is something that has to involve others. Christ suffered and died for ALL, every person, black, white, bond or free. I believe that to truly take advantage of his sacrifice, we must accept the ordinances of His Gospel, which begin with baptism (personal) but progress to familial (temple), AND help others to do the same (share the Gospel, redeem the dead) -- aka THE WORK OF SALVATION. I'm learning a lot about selfless vs selfish here on the mission. While it seems contradictory, the way for one to truly be happy is to try and make others happy, aka serve. I often learn that the hard way. Let us all try and be more dedicated to others and less to ourselves. 

Mom, you wanna know more about piano and being a DL (District Leader)? I'm still playing hymns here in Tucuman for Sac Meeting, but not for long. The ward pianist is an Argentine Mozart, but he broke his wrist just before I got here. Hmmm, coincidence?? Hahaha no just kidding, but it's fine with me - less stress. I still like playing but I'm getting bored with the same old hymns and don't have time to practice new ones - looking forward to freedom after the mission to practice classical and modern, as well as learn to spice up the hymns.

Apart from that, our area is rolling - we're planning 10 baptisms for the 29th, which would be a dream. 2 families of 4 and 2 girls that are part-member families. Pray for the Lobos, Borquez', Diaz' and Quinteros families. Also for Valeria. I freaking love Elder Philpot - we're already toooo good of friends. Probably gonna try and live with him at BYU in 2016. He graduated with me but went to BYU for a year while I opted for the field. He's just a boss.

Love,
Elder Blake

Monday, November 10, 2014

Great week here in PG

Fam and Friends,

Haven't read Brig's full letter but it sounds to me like perhaps my week wasn't as trying as his. Hey, he's a tough kid and it happens to us all in the first few weeks in the mish. Gotta buckle down and get over the hump. Love everyone, because it's probably that they've got it worse than you. Told this to 52 but I'll say it again - I don't think it's in our blood as Blakes to be able to pronounce very well the beautiful language of Español/Castellano. Just 2 days ago we taught an 11 year old punk kid that every 2 minutes corrected how I said something. I said in the opening prayer - "Bless Ivan that he can understand this message, despite the fact that we don't speak Spanish very well"  (Philpot is 6 months in, from AZ). Hahahah he says, "Amen. Hey (pointing to me) YOU, don't speak Spanish very well, he speaks fine." A mission, as life, teaches us humility. 

Speaking of Humility, I feel that it's tough to be a leader to those who aren't so humble. There are stark contrasts in the companionships in my district. Found something interesting in my personal study in Moroni 7 (I'm gonna finish studying the LdM in Spanish for the 1st time this week!!)

 Wherefore, I would speak unto you that are of the church, that are the peaceable followers of Christ, and that have obtained a sufficient hope by which ye can enter into the rest of the Lord, from this time henceforth until ye shall rest with him in heaven.
 And now my brethren, I judge these things of you because of your peaceable walk with the children of men.

Interesting stuff here.  Moroni judges the people to have the hope necessary to return to God's presence because... of their "peaceable walk" with others. In Spanish the translation would be pacifying conduct - basically being a peacemaker (hahaha how many times did I hear that phrase growing up - you rock mom!!)

Then, later..

 38 For no man can be saved, according to the words of Christ, save they shall have faith in his name; wherefore, if these things have ceased, then has faith ceased also; and awful is the state of man, for they are as though there had been no redemption made.
 39 But behold, my beloved brethren, I judge better things of you, for I judge that ye have faith in Christ because of your meekness;
He talks about the lack of faith in the people, but provides this interesting bit - he says that a measure/sign of faith (the faith in JC needed to be saved) because of their meekness! As I type, I realize my observation is actually quite obvious, but I loved this connection. End of story - lets be more humble, because if we're not, we won't progress and won't be exalted. 

I'll end my letter with a great example of humility. We're teaching a family - a humungous family.  Well, in the house, I think there are 3 families or something, all related to the same grandmother, Eva. She's fantastic - prepping to be baptized in a few weeks. She can't read, but is great (last Fri we taught the law of the fast and she fasted 24 hours Sat--Sunday). Well. The principal investigators are 3 grandchildren - Nahuel and Mayra, 14 and 10. They all missed church yesterday so we went in the afternoon to see what's up. All this time, we've been trying to convince their parents to come listen with Eva and their kids, but they're always busy. It's been looking like Eva would get baptized with her 2 grandkids - not the best support system ya know? Well, yesterday, we (they) were blessed with a miracle. We finally got Jose, the dad, to listen. 

What a humble man. It was awkward at first - seemed like we kinda just sat him down and forced him to listen, not that interested. We testified of the Restoration and the LdM, and at the end he opened up to us and told him he's been looking for something different in his life. He feels a bit empty, lost. He'd listened a few times to the missionaries 30 years ago and liked what he heard, but they disappeared. He told us he felt really good and believed what we taught him. He hopes he's found his path; I know he has.

Freakin LOVE my compañero Elder Philpot from AZ - such a boss. Found a sure, lifelong friend. Pray for us that we'll be able to work together for 2 transfers. We work and live really well together. 

Love you all!!! 

Elder Isaac Blake

Monday, November 3, 2014

2 Yr Anni de 40-34 and the torn ACL

Hey fam,

Happy day. Writing to you with a full heart - I just feel really blessed lately. 

Alright already running low on time but I've got a ton I'd like to say. 

1st of all, big BDay shoutout to Big Diesel Ned Holmes. Feliz cumpleaños amigaso!!

When I played football, I always prayed during the National Anthem before every game. Sadly, it was the only consistency I had with prayer during high school, but I can say that the seed was planted on the swamp. 

It started to grow a bit when I went off to BYU and a little more in the MTC, my first few months on my own. 

When I entered the mission field, a bit of distress and homesickness watered the seed even more. I found solace in my life and with the work pouring my heart into the Book of Mormon, doing the Bednar challenge (reading a new blank blue copy with one specific Q in mind). In a few months, I saw the Lord's hand in my life and received answers to my prayers. The tree began to sprout up. 

With one companion who didn't talk much, I started to implore to God that he fill me with Charity (Moroni 7:48). I'm not sure if I was worthy but I can tell you that God answered, slowly and surely. With trial and error and trust in God, I think He blessed me with a taste of what it's like to have charity. I freakin love that companion and really love the people of my area at the time when I really focused on charity in my prayers. If you feel unworthy, don't. If you haven't tried it for a prolonged period, try it. It works.

I learned of the power of prayer in obtaining a testimony in my 2nd area. Ask and ye shall receive. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and that God lives and loves, all thanks to the prayers and studies I have said and done. 

With the seed planted and watered, my tree was finally strong enough that I could turn out and help others plant and water. Jujuy. 

Experimenting with my hijo, I learned of the power of kneeling, sincere prayer. We prayed with many people to ask God if the Church is true or the LdM true, or if they should be baptized. Many times, thanks to their real intent and sincerity, we felt unmistakable answers on our knees together. I've seen lives changed because of a prayer answered. 

My loving mother sent me this simple letter, postmarked Dec 26 2013 - "Remember to always keep a prayer in your heart. Your relationship with God will be the key to your success and happiness." This is true. 

Man, I'm not done, but it's time to go. Needless to say that these past 2 weeks, Elder Philpot and I have challenged our investigators to kneel and pray with us. We felt this Spirit and have received divine answers. This is the key to success and conversion - yesterday we had more investigators in Church than any other Sunday on my mission. We're working with quite a few wonderful families. Please pray for:

The Lobos
The Borquez fam
The Quinteros fam
The Figueroa fam

Also, the Sisters in Yerba Buena and Floresta need our prayers!!!

I KNOW without a shadow of a doubt that the LdM is true and that the Gospel has been restored. Pray. Freakin - one last thing. 

From Elder Miño - Holaaa Elder papi Blake ajja aca la obra esta de diez llevamos 9 a la iglesia la semana que paso y tengo una linda noticia para usted estasmos trabajando con fabian y florencia y ayer hablamos de casarce y dijeron que lo van a pensar pero que lo van hacer asi que ya aceptaron fechas para el 29 los 2 juntos lo hice orar a fabien y dijo padre celestial quiero saber si esta es la iglesia verdadera se quedo callado un minuto y dijo gracias padre por responderme en el nombre de jesucristo amen. FUe muy lindo asi que vamos a trabajar a full con ellos!!

If it doesn't translate: Elder Miño found Fabian and Florencia again!! Just as we'd done in our time together, Miño challenged Fabian to kneel and pray and ask God if the church is true and if he should get married and baptized. Fabian said:

"Heavenly Father,

I want to know if this is the true church. 

(1 minute of silence)

Thanks for answering me.

In the name of Jesus Christ amen"

When I read that, tears came to my eyes. I can't describe the happiness that comes from trusting in prayer, teaching another missionary to trust in prayer, and than finding out that he went and rescued a friend that I had pretty much given up on. Fight on, don't give up. Pray brother

Elder Isaac Blake
 
 


 

Monday, October 27, 2014

First Week in Tucuman

Whattttttupppppppp,

Had a great week here in Parque Guillermina - gonna spit out a ton of things in probably no apparent order.

My compa is Elder Philpot from Glendale/Phx AZ. He's got 6 months in the mission. He's dope - hasn't had a lot of success with his 1st 2 comps but has learned a lot and luckily (thank heavens) already speaks Spanish like a pro - saves me a lot of headaches and time. We've been talking a lot about what we'll do to have success, given that we'll have probably little time together (this is still his 1st area) and our area has a TON of potential. Our members are fantastic - they want to go out and teach with us, they want to feed us lunch etc. Couldn't ask for more from them. The area geographically speaking is humongous - we walk a lot (yes! I was getting kinda fat in Jujuy). There are richer parts and poorer parts - we stick mostly to the more humble.

Tucuman is a really big city - much bigger than Salta or Jujuy. We're on the outskirts but there's still much traffic. You won't really care because you don't know life down here, but get this! In our area (our area alone, not just zone or city) there is a McDonalds!! That is incredible. Unheard of in the mission. There's also a Walmart somewhere here in Tucuman. This area is kinda spooky in some parts - almost feels like we're in the US. I don't like it, but it's a good spin. We're called Guillermina Park because there's a huge park in our area - something like Central Park but obviously smaller. Adds to the US feel. 

Alright, so I've got 6 minutes. Not sure exactly what else to add. We live the 2 of us in a big apartment - a good change of pace from the zoo in Jujuy with some other locos. We're working on a few families to baptize at the end of Nov - we're gonna focus on fellowshiping and testimonio because they will do just about anything we teach them, at least for now. A really tough challenge here - retention. We don't wanna baptize just to put some numbers down on paper - we wanna bless these people and save them - pray for us, and especially pray for the sisters in my district.

I know the Church is true and that this work is true! Love you all, keep fighting, keep praying!

Elder Blake

Monday, October 20, 2014

Heading to Parque Guillermina, Tucuman

Hey fam and friends,

Yesterday was Mother's Day here in Argentina! Happy day mom, I love you a lot. I threw you a shout - out in my testimony yesterday. I killed the hymns, including a final rendition of "Para siempre Dios este con vos - God be with you." More than anything it was for Elder Villanueva who ends his mission today, but we could also sense that perhaps I'd get transferred. And it came to pass...

I'm about to head to the bus terminal to catch a double decker to... Parque Guillermina, Tucuman. I'll be working with Elder Philpot from Arizona (about 6 months in the mission). I'm pumped! Tucuman is supposedly a crazy province with a lot of theives, motos loaded with families of 6, and a lot of humid heat. I doubt it's as bad as the DR tho...

Elder Cowan is heading to Salta, the zone where I started. He's gonna have the task of lifting up a battered zone, he and another Elder are whitewashing the previous ZLs. Pumped for him to meet my converts. 

Yesterday, kinda anticipating the transfer, I said goodbye to some people here, mainly the Brajeda family (see pics). Leo was my first convert with Elder Miño and without a doubt one of the most converted people I've ever met. He has turned his life around completely, and he says he owes a lot to the fact that Elder Molina and I contacted him in the street 3 months ago. The rest is history! He ran with it and since then, his 2 sisters got baptized, as well as 2 friends that he baptized on Saturday! So yesterday, he made us a cake and we had a good time together, We even went out one last time to teach the Gospel to a neighbor!

Saturday, Maxi and Ramiro got baptized. Love these 2 kids, especially Maxi - he's a boss. Very shy and quiet, but in the month we've known him, he's opened up quite a bit. I'm gonna miss him a lot. Fun side note - he was born on May 24 of 1996! (Brigham's exact birthdate)

Thursday it was freakin hot - they said it reached 42 Celsius (not sure what that is in Fahrenheit), but it felt like 110. The worst part? We forgot to pay the electricity bill and they cut the service in the AM. We ran downtown to reinstate it, but it wasn't till about 5 that they plugged us back in (it stunk because we had weekly planning aka all afternoon in the apt without a fan or cold water). 

To top it off, around 6 it started to drizzle, 6:05 rained a little harder, and by 6:10 - straight up hurricane. It was nuts. The house in front lost the roof - the strong winds just bent the tin right in half. A cool experience as a result - we went and offered that family some help and they had us move some cinder blocks etc. 

Gonna tie things up and head to Tucuman! I'm not sure how I feel right now - I freakin love these people here, but I feel like the Lord really needs me in this area. I've seen many miracles here, as well as passed thru some tough disappointments. For example, yesterday, an investigator in a wheelchair and her inactive partner walked 10 blocks to church for the first time. We've been visiting them for every week of my 4 months, trying to exercise patience together. Bruno got up and bore his testimony - he said, "I think the moment has arrived." I agree. Also one more little thing - my absolute boy Adrian, the investigator that dumped us, came to see me off this morning! It was kinda awkward because he's kinda awkward, but I think he did it out of the love he has for us. We tried our best to be at his side. Regardless of what he chooses to do in terms of living the Gospel and commandments, I'll always love him. 

I feel the same way about y'all - I KNOW that the Gospel is the path and the commandments are the handrail, but I'll always love you all regardless!!!

Be good this week - shoutout to 52 heading into the field today! Bautize conversos, predique sin cesar, y disfrute la mision!!!

Elder Isaac Blake
 




 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Hey fam and friends,

Another good week here in Alberdi (more than anything Barcena, the neighborhood where Leandro lives).

A little late - Brig, absolutely loved your stories about the sleepwalking (happens to me a lot too), and you really touched me with your Christlike example, giving away your watch etc. 

Mom, I also wanted to know how it’s been going with Sophie Underwood and the Brooks family. I’m praying for them, but never heard any follow up. Remember, doesn't matter how good the message is if you don’t get the chance to share it and share it well!!

Another quick shout-out – don’t have anyone's emails but I wanted to send a message along to the football captains: “Never ever give up. Someone told me recently that a ship that doesn’t have its destination set won’t get any help from the wind. If you lose faith in the destination you originally set, you’ll never get anywhere. However, if you keep that eye single and work hard regardless of the outcome, you’ll see results. Never back down, keep those feet moving. Enjoy every second. ”

Ok, so the week – We’re working a ton in Leandro’s house with his sisters, and a bunch of his friends – planning quite a few baptisms for this Sat, many or all of which Leandro will perform. Rather than go day by day – it was WICKED hot all week until it rained Thurs night, finally – I’ll profile a few boss hogs.

Ramiro – 15 – Leo’s buddy. Turns out the missionaries taught him when he was 12 with his Mom. She’s really not that interested but she’ll come along. This kid is a boss. He’s a bit addicted to computer games (in the ciber). Besides that, he accepted all of the commandments we taught him - told us he is gonna stop going to the ciber on Sunday, and that he's gonna live the Law o f Chastity. 

Maxi - 18 - Leo's buddy. He's really really quiet - a man of few words. When he does talk, he gives 2 word responses that are very hard to understand. However, he has accepted everything we've taught and has a testimony. This week, he started to open up a lot more. Had what I'd consider a conversation with him yesteray . haaahh Leo invited him to come out and proselyte with us. He laughs a lot and it makes me laugh. Love the dude. 

Well, running low on time. I've noticed in my life and on my mission that a real weakness of mine is judging others and jumping to conclusions, vocally shooting my self in the foot by saying what I think before thinking abut what I'm gonna say. My comp is painfully aware of such a weakness. Found a great scrip just for me - 

19 For behold, the same that judgeth rashly shall be judged rashly again; for according to his works shall his wages be; therefore, he that smiteth shall be smitten again, of the Lord.

Mormon 8

Trying to walk in others´ sandals and not judge so much. Had to ask forgiveness from the neighbor because I yelled from my high seat of self-righteous judgement (see Elder Zwicks Apr talk), (ironically I was on the balcony and she was below in the street). (She was burning trash in front of our house and the smoke didn't make me happy).

Enough of that - end with a great note. Yesterday, I had the incredible privileged of ordaining Leandro to the office of Elder in the Sacerdocio Melquisedec. So happy to share the line of authority with him - he's a BOSS.

Love you alll!!!



This is on Leandro's wall - Dad translate



Monday, October 6, 2014

General Conference Week!!

Muy buenos dias Familia and Amigos!!!

Hahahah writing to you from here in Alberdi, San Salvador Jujuy in good ole Argentina!!! We're coming off a hot (literally) conference weekend, (including our Zone Conference, which was Friday). 

Coming off a few BAD Mondays in terms of afternoon teaching, this last Monday was DOPE!!

We have been teaching Milagros and Celeste for a few weeks now, but there was a lot of doubt as to if they both were gonna get permission from their parents to drop cce (catholic thing) and be baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Well, we started praying for them, and BANG, Monday when we went to teach them, Alberto (papa) came out and signed their "fichas" - not sure the english word (their forms with personal info etc) - YEAH! We left with the biggest smiles on our faces, literally both of us just wanting to run down the street screaming!

We kept the train rolling, including a heck of a day Wednesday by Elder Mino, just stepping up real,  big time. I went on splits with elder Paul Romer from Waco, TX, in his area, leaving Mino with Elder Austin Cowan from West Jordan, UT (our DL) in our area (and coincidentally, Elder Cowan's first area in ARG, small world). I put full names because these 2 are BOSS HOGS and I'll be keeping in touch with them. Anyways, Romer and I did some good work, while Mino and Cowan blew up the area, teaching lessons in every corner of the area, bang bang bang.

Friday, we had our Zone Conf, with Pte and Hna Chaparro - yeeeee! They're really, really great presidents. We talked about using time wisely which is something we could all do better. There weren't any big changes or anything - one thing I love about Pres is that at least for now he holds us accountable on the basis of personal integrity and will. He doesn't impose a lot of strict rules and he doesn't breathe down our necks - DyC 58:26-28.

We had unlimited empanadas and ate with Pte and Hna, everyone talking openly and joking around. They're fun and focused, which makes the work fun and focused. 

Saturday and Sunday we ran around our area hunting investiagators to see conf. Our ward pulled a projector out of it's you-know-what at the last second and thus we had every session available their in the chapel (the stake center is being remodeled). Not trusting much in their last second magic, we set up with 3 different investigators with internet to watch in their houses. For us and me, this was kinda unfortunate, but for the people, it was a home run. Well, it's more blessed to give than receive so I took one for the team. The internet in the 1st house was spotty, and NOOOOOOOOO we missed the 2nd half (1st Pres) of the Priesthood session because guess what... The freakin power went out in the WHOLE neighborhood. We supposed Satan was behind that. 

Sunday was perfect in terms of connection and we had quite a few gators catch the Conf. Unfortunately, every session was obviously in Spanish. There are still weird words that I sometimes don't catch, and because I'm so dialed in to understand in my 2nd tongue, I felt like I missed a lot of spiritual promptings. Tough. I just downloaded the whole Conf in Eng so we'll be catching up every day working out and in the shower. All is well. Side note - the 2 or 3 talks given in Spa were dope because they came from the OG source and I understood everything. Hoping poor Brig had English translations...

Ended the day and the week with... The baptisms!!!

I had the privilege of baptizing Celeste while Leandro baptized his other sister Milagros. It was AWESOME seeing and helping Leo baptize so soon after his repentance and baptism. Watch out, he's gonna be baptizing a lot more in the coming weeks...

GOtta go, love you all

Elder Blake Isaac!
Zone Conference this week.




781 - that's right!

Nice sky pic
Studying at Zone Conference

Leo got to baptize his little sister!!!

Monday, September 29, 2014

What a week!!!

What a week!!!

Literally had some of the most heartbreaking experiences of my life - twice I just felt like collapsing in the street and calling you, Mom. However, instead, I got on my knees and I called God. Juntos, Elder Mino and I decided we couldnt afford to get down, and both times we just got more motivated to preach and love with POWER.
 
Alright, so Monday, we brought a dope member to fellowship my boy Adr. -they sat together in church the 21st. However, Adr. came out with his LdM and folletos and extended his arm - "take them. I made my choice, I'm not gonna keep going." For 30 mins we stood there, taking turns trying to figure out why and convince him to not throw in the towel. I have it all in my journal - the recap as follows:

He said that he just can't keep the commandments - I fricking told him 10 times how much I/we love him, but he wouldn't budge. Testified, and Juan Carlos Sanchez went boss hog on him, but didn't budge. Really really tough to lose such a FRIEND. ADRIAN!!!!!!! NOOOOOOO. 

We woke up on Tues and got right after it - banged out 80 burpees, and we didn't look back. Bang bang bang bang bang bang bang, I often say - we're just gonna put our heads down and do what we do best, contact and teach. We killed this week - worked with a good group of members including 2 or 3 days of splits with Leandro and another member. We visited a TON of less actives, working on strengthening everyone. Man, we were lead by the Spirit and just all around found, and taught, and prepared to baptize. 

Half of our investigators (hahaha no, more than half) that are legit are either Leandro's family or friends. What a BOSS - absolutely no fear in this kid. He's going to Seminary and Mission Prep, and might make the cut to receive the Melchizadek Priesthood in 2 weeks. 

One of his friends down the street is Ale - he's pretty lost in the world but after Leo brought him to church 2 times, we went to Ale's house. Turns out his parents are inactive members! On Sat, Mino went with our EQ Pres and they had a dope lesson - they want to get active and help save Ale. Pray for the Garzon family. 

Saturday, we went to visit Mar. (Enzo) - who had a FIRM date for next Saturday - this dude went to church 2wice and LOVED everything about the gospel and the Church. However, all of the sudden, Saturday, he literally went a little crazy (he admitted he has psychological problems) and denied EVERYTHING that we had taught him - she said he could never believe in the LdM nor in the 1st Vision etc. Made me SICK to hear such a great guy tell us that he thinks he is now split between 2 Gods (The God of the Bible and of the LdM) and that he thinks God is gonna curse us all. We testified and told him we love him, but he was past reason. The 2 highlight were no doubt the testimonies of Mino and Leandro - they both stood strong and testified of what we all know. 

I love the hymn "Let us all Press On" - no hay time to give some choice lyrics, but it PUMPS ME UP. Regardless of the crap Satan throws at us, let us all press on with our heads held high!!
 
Julia added:

  Lyrics

  1. 1. Let us all press on in the work of the Lord,
    That when life is o'er we may gain a reward;
    In the fight for right let us wield a sword,
    The mighty sword of truth.
  2. (Chorus)
    Fear not, though the enemy deride;
    Courage, for the Lord is on our side.
    We will heed not what the wicked may say,
    But the Lord alone we will obey.
  3. (Chorus: Alto, Tenor, and Bass)
    Fear not, courage, though the enemy deride;
    We must be victorious, for the Lord is on our side.
    We'll not fear the wicked nor give heed to what they say,
    But the Lord, our Heav'nly Father, him alone we will obey.
  4. 2. We will not retreat, though our numbers may be few
    When compared with the opposite host in view;
    But an unseen pow'r will aid me and you
    In the glorious cause of truth.
  5. 3. If we do what's right we have no need to fear,
    For the Lord, our helper, will ever be near;
    In the days of trial his Saints he will cheer,
    And prosper the cause of truth.
Elder Blake