Elder Isaac Blake

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

Monday, April 28, 2014

What up fam,

Logistics and responses 1st:

Mom, can you try and send the Pentel twist erase pencils in a thin bubble wrap envelope that you could smother with stamps? we cant get packages, but I think it'd work if you use stamps. Worth the risk in my opinion. I imagine something along the lines of the letter Harry Potter got or something. 

Can you send me the home addresses of my cousins? All of them

Love the Callister and Monson talks. Great job Anna! Atta pep, Brig, get those papers in ASAP. Mom, do you remember the exact date I got my call? can you find out? 

Yes, it makes me sad that you don't send letters. Especially now that we can't get packages, I'd love it if you send them often, preferably with printed photos

Love hearing about Lincoln's love for football. Keep the love Lincoln! Everyone, cherish your time to play in the yard and the playground. Don't take it for granted.

Dad, hahahah I wish i could take a 2 hour nap, even if it was just once ever 6 weeks or so. Not allowed in my mission. Love the Green Hill song.

Alright, so for my week:
Ald's neice (basically a sister, she's 13 and Adl's 17) got baptized Saturday! It's crazy how much she changed, solely because of the Spirit working in her heart. I got to confirm her a member and give her the Gift of the Holy Ghost. It was my 1st confirmation, and hahahah I was SOO nervous, not sure why. Killed the Spanish and the words, but I was shaking uncontrollably. Oh well, it was a great experience. 
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The experiences that tend to drive these letters are my Sundays, perhaps because they're freshest. Yesterday was pretty good - Sac Meeting the highlight. 

As we started the Sacrament, I was feeling really relieved. I felt prompted to open up 2 Nephi 4, and turns out Nephi describes exactly how i was feeling:

 17 Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great agoodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O bwretched man that I am! Yea, my heart csorrowethbecause of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.
 18 I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily abeset me.
 19 And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have atrusted.
 20 My God hath been my asupport; he hath led me through minebafflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.
 21 He hath filled me with his alove, even unto the bconsuming of my flesh.
 22 He hath confounded mine aenemies, unto the causing of them to quake before me.
 23 Behold, he hath heard my cry by day, and he hath given meaknowledge by bvisions in the night-time.
 24 And by day have I waxed bold in mighty aprayer before him; yea, my voice have I sent up on high; and angels came down and ministered unto me.
 25 And upon the wings of his Spirit hath my body been acarried away upon exceedingly high mountains. And mine eyes have beheld great things, yea, even too great for man; therefore I was bidden that I should not write them.
 26 O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath avisited men in so much bmercycwhy should my dheart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions?
 27 And why should I ayield to sin, because of my flesh? Yea, why should I give way to btemptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my cpeace and afflict my soul? Why am Idangry because of mine enemy?
 28 Awake, my soul! No longer adroop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the benemy of my soul.
I felt like this week I had fallen into a routine a bit, and perhaps I just need a change of scenery. I'm taking some council from Pres to try and finish strong with potentially 1 week left in Limache. He told me if you cant withstand 7 months in the same place in your mission and you slack off towards the end, what are you gonna do when you have to sit in the same cubicle for 40 years? you gonna slack off? 

Thus, the mission is indeed a mini proving ground for life. Pretty grateful for that, but it can put a lot of pressure on the rest of the mission. I feel like I still have so much to learn and maintain these 16 months left. 

I love the humility of Nephi, he's obviously a boss, and over-reacting. I hope I'm a little like him, and for now, I'll just quote him and Mumford and Sons: "Awaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaakkkkkkkeee, my soul."

Had another dope experience reading the Book of Mormon with the Cor's. Rom has her baptismal date for Sat. the 3rd, and we read 3 Nephi 11 with her and the fam. Her boyfriend (a very stubborn Catholic) tagged along and read with us. I was on my toes because he loves to throw weird questions at us. Basically, instead of prepping the defense, I decided to arm my offense. Nothing direct, but I was striving to find the Spirit in the reading so that I could testify to all (him) with conviction. These verses hit me hard: 

 14 Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may athrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may bfeel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the cGod of Israel, and the God of the whole dearth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.
 15 And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side, and adid feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet; and this they did do, going forth one by one until they had all gone forth, and did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands, and did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come.
I felt much love from my Savior, and Danny even shared a tender testimony of the His love as well. I can't really describe how I felt: love, peace, knowledge, the absence of any evil or doubt. I'm grateful for the Spirit and the Book of Mormon. 

The week was slower than usual, and we had so many people commit to come to church only to disappear or be asleep. We're trying to focus on what we can control, which is inviting the Spirit. I love a quote from Joseph B Wirthlin's mom, I think from "Come What May and Love It:"

"Don't be a scrub"

This week, I'm gonna revisit diligence, as well as a bit of humility. Awake my soul! Awake our souls! And yeah, let's not be scrubs this week. 

I love you all so much. I believe with all my heart that the Church is true. I might even know without a doubt. What I do know is how I feel: I feel my Savior's love, and I feel the warmth of the Spirit as I try and serve Him. 

Elder Blake

Monday, April 21, 2014

Hola all,

Today is one of the best days of the year - I'm gonna try not to think about watching the Marathon and the Sox and chilling with the Gang. But to all of you in the good ole USA and especially MA, disfruten (enjoy!)

Yesterday was a really good day. Had some really great spiritual experiences, as well as a little taste of Relief Society drama. We'll skip the drama, just a little misunderstanding about us changing lunches. 

Antonio (big boss) came to Church again, and killed it in every way. In our small Priesthood class, he didn't say a word. Felt kinda awkward because he doesn't know how to read, so he kinda just listened as we read from the manual. However, at the end, he got called on to say the prayer. Wow. Incredible prayer. I'll give some background. 

Given his processing difficulties, we've been focusing on simple things, and taught Joseph Smith a few times this week. We invited him to pray, and he forgot the first 2 nights. Well, you know how they say the 3rd times a charm. Every day, he's been saying he wants to have a revelatory dream about Joseph Smith. I tried to encourage him and not put out his fire, but I could tell Herm and our members, and myself included, were a little hesitant to promise anything. Well, we come back, and he says, "Brothers, you'll never believe. I had the dream!" 

He proceeds to tell us about his dream in which Jesus appeared to him and said, "Fear not! I am." Unfortunately, his dog woke him up and he said there's more that he missed.  He took this as his answer about JS. Every time I hear this dude talk, and have to hold back my laughter but at the same time marvel at his spirituality and profundity. He's just a boss. 

Alright so in his prayer to end the class, he basically says this, "God, thank you for my family, the missionaries that never fail at visiting me, this Church, the brothers. Father, I know you will speak to me. Thank you for visiting me in my dreams, but I still want to dream the rest. I know the Book of the Mormons is true. I want to quit drinking, it's really weighing me down, and I know you can help me. In the name of our Savior, amen." He repeated about every thing 2 or 3 times, including his declarations of testimony right to God. I was almost in tears. Incredible.

Another great experience: I was sitting next to him in Sacrament meeting, and on the other side, Marcelo, whose leaving for Brazil on Wed. I didn't catch it all, but I guess Marcelo gifted his Bible to Antonio. Antonio was awestruck, and broke down in tears as Marcelo handed him the Bible. He kissed it, and looked up and thanked God. 

I would like to love and value something as simple as the Bible as Antonio does. I think we take things like that for granted. I think Antonio is a great example of becoming "as a child, submissive, meek, humble" (Mosiah 3:19). This is really why we're here, to humble up and simplify our lives, becoming more and more like Christ every day. For Antonio, the only thing stopping him from formally taking upon the name of Christ is his wine, but I know he's close to liberation. 

For some logistics etc: 

1. Hahahaha Dad Lincoln's comment about you being the #1 nerd killed me. I laughed hard. Keep it up Linc

2. I got a few shots in the MTC. Not sure what other details there are, but just vaccines I needed

3. You can erase anything and everything on my old phone. Consider it yours. That being said, not sure why you'd want to delete my dope tunes.

For the Christlike attribute - This week, I wouldn't say I was super super diligent, but definitely saw a difference. When I found myself walking a little slowly, I asked myself, "What does Elder Blake want to do right now? But what does God want Elder Blake to do right now?" That, without fail, got me cranking it up a bit more. 

This week, I'm gonna focus on virtue, specifically thoughts. Inspired by a scrip (DyC 121:45) and a 1st pres message:  

 45 Let thy abowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let bvirtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy cconfidence wax strong in the dpresenceof God

Coming up on 17 weeks with my comp. I need to look for the good in him as I'm starting to get a little sick of so much time together. Do the same in you associations, especially marriages.

This week, look for the good in everyone. Try and ask yourself what the will of God is in your life, and align your desires and appetites with His will in righteousness. May we all purify our hearts and become more like Antonio this week. 

Love, Elder Blake
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Me and Marcelo

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An Empty Bus - Happy Easter!
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Elders in the District - Me, Herm, Durrant, and Baldwin      

Monday, April 14, 2014

Hola flia,

I've been thinking about trials and triumphs this week, inspired by Sister Bringhurst, my dope cuz serving in Boston. I don't really have any big trials this week, which isn't exactly a good thing (we'll get to that). 


1. Ald. got baptized!
2. Ant. reappeared out of nowhere again!
3. The future is looking bright! (5 people with solid dates for the coming weeks)

Over the course of the week, I made a conscious effort to do all in my power to influence others to make good decisions. The trials I faced always had to do with fighting selfish, negative thoughts. I thought and studied about consecrating myself to the Lord, and follow this council from our Savior in Luke 9:

 23 ¶And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his across daily, and bfollow me.
 24 aFor whosoever will save his life shall blose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.
It's tough to lose myself in the service of others, and not think about what I want to do, or what I'm gonna do in 16 months (wow! time flies), how my fam and friends are etc. I worked hard, but I think there's more left in the tank. 

Thus, Mom, I'd like to study and develop diligence this week. You guys should diligently do the little things this week, and I'll push myself to always think of others. 

You all fill me with inspiration and reassurance. I receive too many emails this week to possibly respond to, and many of you let me know how I've impacted you. According to you, I think I'm doing alright. Apart from the good old USA support, I had a tender moment with V, one of my 1st converts from November, and I think the number 1 reason I came here to Limache (no 'n' dad). We've suffered everything under the sun from depression to struggling sons to dying parents. She has yelled at me, told me she's giving up, and told me I was to blame. At the end of the day, there has been forgiveness and unconditional love. 

Well, her dad died after a long fight Thursday night and in church on Sunday, she was obviously still grieving. She shook my hand and just looked me in the eyes. She said, "Thank you. You are a fighter. You never gave up."

It  was one of those little moments that you just sit back and feel God telling you that you're doing alright. It's those little moments that really make this experience so worthwhile. 
Well, onto the biggers. 

Ald. had the best baptismal service - she walked around the hood all week hand-delivering invites to members. We had such a strong Spirit there as we witnessed a repentant sinner be made clean. She is a great example, and is opening hearts in her family. When she came up out of the water, I had the biggest smile on my face.
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Finally, after passing by everyday to no avail, I was ever so pleasantly surprised to see Ant. walk out of his door Saturday. It filled my soul with joy, for I had thought perhaps I might never see him again, let alone that he might lose his chance to receive the restored gospel and give up his addiction to wine. Well, that's all that stands in the way now - el vino. Pray for him please. He is dominated by his addiction, and needs liberation. 
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I'd like to respond to some things people have written - forgive me for what I don't get to. 

Almost everyone that writes me talks about the growth - and especially the trials - that they experience, particularly in their 1st years of school. My advice, that is certainly directed at myself as well: 

1. Trust in God - pray
2. Don't take yourself so seriously
3. Pray for the trials. --- A big conclusion I've reached is summed up well in a quote from my mother: 'There is no growth in comfortable and no comfortable in growth." Trials and problems create the opportunity for growth. This week, I'm gonna give thanks for my trials, and pray for more, according to the will of the Lord. The best personal growth is born from the strongest opposition. 

Alright, that's all from me. I love you all - never give up, never back down. The Church is true.

Elder Blake

Monday, April 7, 2014

Helllllooooo Family and everyone,

Gonna try and get everything I want in this letter, but I'm bound to forget something. 1st, logistics:

1. There's a new law in ARG that you can't send packages from outside the country. DON'T SEND ANYMORE PACKAGES. It stinks, and I've really appreciated all the love I've gotten, but that's life. Just gotta roll with the punches. 

2. Someone (I'll keep them anonymous) asked me for some advice on how to stay close to God, especially with so many competing priorities. I'm gonna paste a few videos that answer the question better than I. My short answer: pray, and serve others. Get on your knees and pour out your heart to our Heavenly Father. Then, lose yourself in the service of others.

3. Thank you to those who wrote to me this week.  It means so much to me. I'm sorry that I don't have time to write you back individually.  Please know that I am thinking about you. I only have 45 minutes total on the computer and that includes correspondence/check-in with the mission leaders.

Alright. So this week, I've been increasing evermore my focus on developing charity, especially with my companion. We get along fine, and we really don't have problems, he's a great guy, but I've realized that love starts at home. Considering I don't have a home besides him and our meager apt, that's where its got to start. Anyways, some spewed experiences:

About 2 weeks ago, I decided to just focus on the little things. I try and tell him, as well as other people we meet with, that I love them. "Le quiero" is the Spanish way of saying it in a brotherly way. I've felt the Spirit dwell more in our home, and I've seen slight changes in his countenance as well. I love you all, and I know that saying I love you can make a world of difference. 

Studying the other day, I came across a dope verse: 1 Peter 2:17

aHonour all men. Love the bbrotherhoodcFear God. Honour the dking.

Man, if you know me, you know I love brotherhood. I value respect and honor. I love the Gang, as well as my own blood. Brigham, Noah, Lincoln, and Coop - I love you guys. 

What is often really a challenge for me is loving those who aren't that close - an unconditional, Christ-like love for any and everyone with whom I interact. I'm praying fervently that I might develop this love and respect for ALL, to try and see life from their shoes. It's tough, but worthwhile. 

Moving on to Conference (Julia here: General Conference for our church happens every April and October and it is incredible - I recommend listening)  - I went in with this focus - love. I was moved by Pres. Monson's talk on Sunday, as it touched EXACTLY what I've been worrying about lately. I know he is a prophet of God, and that Jesus speaks to the world through him. 

The Priesthood session as a whole was incredible. Oh how I missed going to the good old Weston building with the boys, and especially how I missed the times I've been able to go with Grandpa. I just love you guys and Conf so much. I was struck by the 3 talks of the 1st Presidency, and especially Uchtdorf's talk. I think he's my favorite speaker of all time, and this talk was true to form - a classic literature reference, with practical Gospel applications for a happier, more Christ-like life. 

I have accumulated about 200 GC (General Conference) talks on a flash drive in my 6 months in the field. After the Sunday afternoon sesh, I was longing for more. I went directly to my Uchtdorf folder and listened to 3 talks before bed. Oh how I love Conference. Please, study the talks, you that have free time to do so. There are so many things I want to study, with so little time, that I find unfortunately GC taking a backseat. Study the words of our prophets. 

An. went 2 hours north for the weekend and we're not really sure what's up with him. He can get baptized as soon as he stops drinking, but we don't even know if he's gonna keep living in Limache. 

We had almost the entire C. fam come to Sunday Conf, including Fr. (super rebellious). He slept, but we think we can see a change in him. He accepted a baptismal date, but I'm a bit skeptical due to past experience. Ro. went partying all night and didn't come unfortunately. 

I'll close with a final experience. Wednesday, I felt prompted to fast. Not really sure why, just did. Well, it turns out that Wednesday night, we finally got A's parents at the table together to have them sign her baptismal form. They had been saying they wanted her to wait. Well, we made friends a bit, then just asked them. Dad asks, "what happens after? Does she have to go out preaching like you guys?" Ahahahaha. Nope. We explained the 5 steps of the Gospel - Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Endure to the End. They're like, "cool." He signed, then ran back upstairs to watch Boca play (futbol). I'm not sure if God wanted me to sacrifice a bit of myself for that reason specifically, but I don't take it for coincidence. 

My testimony is a strong as ever. I want nothing more than to lead a humble life of daily prayer and scripture study, weekly partaking of the Sacrament, and selfless, Christ-like service. These simple, foundational things were a guiding theme of this wonderful conference. Please, do them. Do the little things consistently. I love you all very much. 

Elder Blake
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Shoes worn out already!
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