Elder Isaac Blake

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

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.

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