Elder Isaac Blake

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

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Jan 27, 2014

Hola Familia y Amigos (Familia),

I love you. Another great week here in the 387. It was mega hot unto Friday when it poured overnight and then rained off and on until Sunday. We woke up actually a little cold Sat and Sun. Weird.

Hmmm, lets work backwards. We had 3 investigators in Church, 1of whom is this 10yearold boss whose gonna get baptized Saturday - Santiago. We went on splits to hunt the 'gators and my comp spent 15 minutes trying to wake him. He lives the teenager schedule already. 

Saturday we had a dope baptism of the niece of our 1st Councilor. She basically taught herself - super prepared because of the rest of her fam. Watch out for a handwritten letter coming soon with more details. All in all, it was probably the best baptism I've had. She left the water crying and the Spirit was just so strong. There is a difference between baptism and conversion - baptism is just the first step. She's already being converted.

The rest of the week was business as usual. We taught a bunch of lessons and the work is going great. Time is FLYING.

I wanna touch on something Brigham mentioned in his letter. He said that he's been a little worried about his mission and that it'll be an eternity. I think he even had a dream that I came home and we were just talking, and that I said every day was like a year. He said that just after that he read my email from last week, where I said time flies, and that calmed all his fears. His testimony of the experienced hit me hard: 

"The comfort and peace it just gave me is outstanding. I really don't think this was a coincidence. Even though it wasn't a vocal prayer, the way you're living was an confirmation I needed desperately."

I'm so grateful to have been able to be the medium of the Spirit to help a brotha out, and I know that it wasn't a coincidence either. 

We had interviews with Pres Friday, and mine was awesome. I was impressed with how friendly/normal he is. Many missionaries are scared of authority. Frankly, I have no clue why. Perhaps my years in the company of Coaches like Davis, Griff, and Magpiong have gotten me used to being around authority figures. Hahaha not sure where that's going. Anyways, he helped me a lot to realize that the Spirit almost always works so subtley that we can barely discern it from normal thoughts etc. We have to diligently search Him. I can say with surety that I am guided by the Spirit literally every second of the mission. It's incredible, and I quite frankly don't really look forward to having to take off the badge in 18 months (wow). I'm so grateful for all of you and your love, but I'm starting to not miss you so much. Not because of you, but really because of how incredible it is to be immersed in this Spirit and to be able to see the fruits of repentance in our investigators. So, lets keep enjoying life. It's tooooooo good.


I would LOVE the raincoat from Donkey Wonkey. The sentiment means much more to me than the material. Quite honestly, I miss him sooo much even though I barely knew him. Seeing the growth of a mission in myself, and then imagining Tonga in freakin 1950 WITHOUT the MTC, I have too much respect and admiration for him. Please, I would be honored to wear his coat on my back.

I'm good for winter - bought a pea coat in an American Fair (literally Savers clothes that gets shipped here). I think I'm good without boots - it hardly rains in the winter, never snows.

I paid $50 more for the first package, the second one still hasn't come (i think). Our registrar in the offices, the missionary in charge of packages, isn't very friendly nor organized, so we'll see. I basically never know.

Alfajores are nothing special. I almost don't even like them. Milanesa is plain but actually quite good.

The dude I'm duking it up with is a semi-pro soccer player who lived in our ward but moved. He went inactive from 18-30 years, but last year his wife got baptized,he re-activated, and this week they're at the temple getting sealed. He's a boss!!

I listen to conf talks by downloading them onto a flash drive. I bought a music player thing that has a usb port and plays them. I listen to the talks while I'm getting after it in the mornings, cooking, and showering. 

Brigham, you're in my prayers as we await the BYU app. I'm confident God's plan for you will lead you on the path to true happiness, regardless of the school you attend. Always remember to pray, study the scrips, and keep the commandment. Thus, you will prosper in the land!!

Love ya'll

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Bomb Week

Maybe I said that last week, but life really is starting to get incredible. We've basically cleaned house here in Limache in 3 weeks, with a pool of about 10 solid investigators that we've found, really due to the work/spirit of Elder Hermansen. It's frickin fulfilling to see people actually progressing towards conversion instead of just meeting the check-off-the-box requirements for baptism. 

The more I work, the more I have to cede to agency. The people that we're teaching actually want us to come over. We don't need to beg every time to get led in. Agency, the ability of choice, a gift from God, is incredible. Yeah, it means that people will unfortunately dwindle in unbelief, but for those that choose to exercise faith, the reward of a personal journey to meet, know, and follow Christ is indescribable. Man, it's just toooooo fun to teach these good people. 10 hour work days feel like literally 1 hour. Right now, that's way fine with me. However, I'm sure the rapidity will bite me in the behind in a matter of years when I have to be a real person. 

I was thinking the other day how blessed I am to be out here. I sometimes wake up and look at the calender of Wellesley, the pic Anna drew of me, and the painting my sweet mother did of me and 52 hugging after my 1 meager TD of Senior Year, and miss my other life. Then, I remember that every freakin day I get to work out while listening to 3 General Conference talks, eat a nice old omelet, study the freakin scrips for an hour, plan the lessons and the work with Herm, and then save souls!!! Every single freakin day. College will be sweet, but this is the life. 

That reminds me: THANKS FOR THE PACKAGE!!!! Wow, last Monday was the best p-day ever. I cooked up a nice 3 dollar steak (better than anything in the States for $20) with Mom's steak rub, read letters, looked at pics. Also got like 10 Christmas cards which was dope. I love you all and your thoughts, prayers, and most of all letters are much appreciated.

Alright, logistics:

1. In the next big package, can you send gold bond, family recipes, a good quality rain jacket, lots more pics, including of the house with snow, a veggie (carrot) peeler, and 4 .20mm (the smallest) black architect pens. The one you sent is exactly what I need, but the tip was a bit messed up. Also, in the future, the granola is incredible with the yogurt here, and you can save space by just sending the powdered cheese from Annie Shells. I can buy good pasta.

2. Make sure everyone know my letter address. Also, starting now I have a deal. IF YOU WRITE ME BY HAND, I PROMISE A RESPONSE BY HAND.

Letter Mailing Address

Elder Isaac Blake
Argentina Salta Mission
Casilla de Correo 429
4400 Salta

Package Mailing Address

Elder Isaac Blake
Argentina Salta Mission
Los Eucaliptus 75 B Tres Cerritos
4400 Salta

Monday, January 13, 2014

Sounds like we've all had a fantastic week.  I wish I'd known Lin'cs big day was yesterday, but I think even in the absence of that knowledge, I was blessed with the Spirit of his wonderful covenant. Yesterday was one of the best days I've had on the mission. We had 4 first-time investigators in church, all of whom came on their own (NEVER happens here in lazy ARG). We started working at 5, and we visited a less-active sister whom I've been trying to get back to church. I'd had 2 or 3 really spiritual visits with Elder Ramirez, but didn't realize just how big the impact was that I personally had on her. She told me that in the course of the visits, she had looked into my eyes and seen Jesus Christ. She said something about the Spirit I brought "opened a flower in her heart," and after 10 years of inactivity, she's been 3 weeks straight. I say this not to brag, because quite frankly I was dumbfounded, without words. I can only give credit and glory to God and his marvelous, mysterious ways. I had been battling some inner feelings of disappointment/inadequacy stemming more from impatience than anything, and this was really the 1st experience I've had where somebody has been touched to accept the Gospel by means of Elder Blake. I hope to be worthy to touch many more hearts and (re)open the channels of love and animo (not sure the English word) to participate actively.
The rest of Sunday flew, which is the sign of a good day. We went from house to house basically without problem getting in, which always makes me happy. Nobody likes getting the door slammed in their face (that'd be just an expression, because here, the polite ones just yell thru the window "I'm busy, I don't have time." The rest either aren't home or are asleep). Funny side story from that: yesterday in the bus, I started to talk to this old man. It was super crowded and there was no escape (physically)! However, when I segwayed the small talk into the invitation to talk about Jesus, he cut me off and said "No tengo tiempo para escuchar - I don't have time to listen." This obviously is viable if you're at home or walking or doing something, but this crazy old man staring out the window pulled out a too classic excuse. I laughed a bit and accepted that he just wasn't feeling the love. I wanted so badly to be cheeky and say something like "bor, you're riding the bus, doing absolutely nada, you've got time to chat a little." But, I'm trying to be like Jesus, so I didn't.

As for the rest of the week, it rained a little (Mom, we forgot to think about the weather - don't have an umbrella, or raincoat, or quite frankly anything. Not mad though, I laugh. I'm working on acquiring the needed essentials. We found a handful of really quality investigators, with the backdrop of weeks of nobody new progressing. The signs right now with an equally yoked companionship striving to work in the way of the Lord are all pointing to much success and happiness. 

Bueno, I guess I'll answer miscellaneous stuff from letters.

1. Can you send me my priesthood lineage??

2. The next package you send, will you throw in a few usb flash drives? Super expensive here - not urgent, but wanted

3. Brian - thanks for the advice. We're tossing tons of pucks on net!!

4. Brigham - love to see you're getting in the scrips. I'd offer the generalized interpretation that I've learned quite a bit about. Satan has power over the hearts of men. Things like pride, selfishness, complaining, and generally just being narrow-minded, are little traits he loves to plant and grow in our minds and hearts. No one is exempt, but I invite you to search the BoM (ask Gpa Bringhurst too) for the way  in which we can shield ourselves completely from Satan's influence. At the end of the day, God has given every single one of us our agency because the good choices we make because WE make them, will bring the sweetest fruit. Hard work always pays off. 

Also, congrats on the SAT. Keep praying and trust in God's will. Next time you go to Longfellow, at least say whattup to 34 from me. 

5. Kim  - died with the story about you and your Bishop. Great stuff

6. Dad - thanks for the letter as always. I loved the candid interplay about Linc{s latest escapades. I can relate a ton to football video games obviously, and although I regret wasting some (not all) of my youth on things like that, it makes me happy to picture him getting a kick out it them. 

I'll leave my testimony of the importance/power of the family. I miss ya'll, but I love showing these investigators the pic of us outside of the house right before I left. They all say how cute Anna is, and everyone is jealous of our hair. We hunting for families because it's sincerely the most joyful relationship any of us can have. The family is the reason I've made it this far spiritually, and now the reason I get up, excited to work everyday. Enjoy your families!!! As for mine, we'll be together again soon!

Love ya'll (you're all my family)

Elder Blake
Happy Birthday Linc - eating a Happy Meal for him

Happy Birthday Mom - taken on your Birthday

Monday, January 6, 2014

Chasing that 10

Good day all,

Its been a fantastic week. Elder Hermansen is a boss hog and we work extremely well together. Let's just leave it at that so I don't say anything bad about my papi. 

It's been great, but it hasn't all been fun. It's been tough. It's been super long and at the same time super short, just like all time is. The number 1 focus this week has been going by the book, specifically -- Preach My Gospel

If you are prepping for, or just thinking about, or even have completed, a mission, YOU NEED TO STUDY THIS BOOK. This is literally a missionary´s best friend. Every recipe for success that we are given to share the true happiness and abundant blessings we have with others, lies in this guide. BRIGHAM - STUDY PMG INSIDE AND OUT. My first 3 months I learned to do a lot of things "our way" instead of by PMG, and it's been a tough transition. Elder Hermansen only has 6 weeks more than me in ARG (served 5 months in Houston). We're two awkward gringos (I speak better Spanish) running around Limache trying to baptize, but luckily, he's teaching me to use PMG. We're implementing a lot of new things like lesson plans, baptismal calenders, and simplified teaching methods, to do this work much more efficiently. I absolutely love working with him, especially our comp studies (wild brainstorm sessions). The work is a lot more FUN with him. 

Now for the title reference: I will liken missionary work to chasing after the perfect girl. Every day, were hunting for girls that will go out with us (people that will LISTEN, for the very least). Every girlfriend (investigator) is at a different stage, with different level of potential and interests (problems like religious diffs, amount of time listening). At this point, we're meeting tons of fun, flirty dames that tell us to come back later, and hanging on to that one that you can't seem to shake off even after 4 breakups (Matt has experience with this, me not so much). Carlos and Maricel are breaking our hearts, dragging us through the mud every day. They've each respectively accepted firm baptismal dates and than a week before straight up dumped us. I'ts killing me inside because every person we meet is like that girl I liked soooo bad but could just never seem to pull (def have experience here, but I think my metaphor is dying). Ahahahah I think what I'm trying to say is that I'm learning to open my mouth and ask every girl out, and to not put all my eggs in one basket. We have to love every investigator, but can't get attached. 

This kinda segways into another bit of revelation: the power of the Spirit in conversion. It's tough to know how the girl (investigator) feels about you. It's kinda awkward to straight up ask, but at the same time you can't waste time with someone that's not for real. Basically, we have to put all our trust in God, not these flaky girls. He knows how they feel, and if they will progress. He knows what they need to feel and know in order to do so. What we'll do is create the best environment and avenue for His Spirit to work miracles with as many of these people as we can. I hope I didn't lose you all (I think I lost myself), but if there's a takeaway, it's that I've learned that whether or not ANYONE accepts the message of the Restoration doesn't depend on us individually, but rather how well we invite the Spirit, and at the end of the day, 2 big things: the will of the Lord, and their agency. 
Now I'll answer some misc Qs and logistics.

Not sure how New Years is here. Conked out at 11pm exactly. 

Its sweet that your art is displayed at the lib, Mom! Keep it up!

Not sure exactly what I said, but the perfect time to pray together will be right around 11-11:15PM Salta. I think thats 9-9:15 Boston. That's when Im saying my night prayer. I get up right at 7 here

Please type up the letter if you want

I've already kinda reached the same conclusion on parenting as your friend. I think we should model the way God does it, and trust in His way - room for personal growth (with the added risk of falling) is much greater.
How's the pension (apartment)? Oh yeah. It'll be a bit of a challenge to not speak English (4 gringos, one BRAND NEW), but we get along great. I like this group way better than the last. We finally get to bed on time, there isn't any contention at all. Elder R and Elder A were big personalities, and didn't mesh very well. todo bien now!!!

Piano - I'm too rusty right now and there's literally no time to practice ever. Sorry - I promise I practice any spare minute in the church (aren't too many)

I'll close with a shout out to Linc and Mom this week - Feliz CumpleaƱos!!!! I'll be thinking of y' all the 9th and 11th. 

Love you all soooo much

Elder Blake