Saturday, August 8, 2015
Sorry for the late notice, but lately quite a few missionaries have had to go home early for personal reasons so we're a few missionaries short. There are 2 American Elders that have to wait like 2 week for their visas, but will be coming on Aug 23. Pres. Chaparro has asked me to extend my mission for 2 weeks to fill one of the gaps, and I've given it a lot of thought and prayer and I think I'm gonna tell him yes. What do you think?
Let me know ASAP
Posted by Blake Blogs at 7:54 AM
Sunday, July 26, 2015
Hey fam and friends,
This week was pretty darn good. Last Sat, E' Rod and I had a baptism! Marilyn and Diana Coronel (8 year old twins whose sisters are members but whose parents aren't) were baptized by me and Rod. It was a memorable experience worth telling in person.
We're continuing to see incredible, miraculous progress in the area. We have 2 baptisms scheduled for Aug 8! Gonna celebrate the anni of my favorite (only - hahahah not a very funny joke) parents! Jorge is 22 and supposedly is a golden investigator, who says he wants to serve a mission, and Jesus, 13, who has been reached out to by the Young Men and is thriving at church. He's got a tough family situation but is really changing, and is a lot happier.
We left on Monday, via double decker bus, to the northern tip of the mission to start our 1st week of splits. The bus broke down for 3 hours, and we got the the house at 2:30 am. Yeah!
But other than that, and also miraculously, we weren't dead tired or anything. Got after it all week. I worked every day with the junior companion of a normal area in the 4 zones we visited, in stead of the normal custom to work with the ZLs (E' Contreras worked with a ZL in their area every time.) The highlight was working yesterday in Alberdi 2, the area where I trained E' Miño. Got to say goodbye to some converts, and also show Elder Raffagnini a lot of the former investigators that stopped progressing. Ended the day with one last family night with the Brajeda family.
That brings me to the subject line. In essence, I'm coming to realize that love is the motor of life's satisfaction and happiness. The reason it's so rewarding to have a family and friends, is (should be) the love that one feels from and for other people. I have grown to love the Brajeda family as if they were my own. Seeing them happy and committed to the Gospel makes every day of sacrifice worth it. It literally brightens my day and feels me with a feeling I can't describe...
I'll talk more about this in my homecoming talk, but I've also seen a lot in my life and my mission the devastating despair that one feels when there isn't a lot of love (especially in family). For a lot of people, harsh words and little patience is called "tough love," but I want to boldly say that I think that's just a facade, an ugly excuse. There is NO substitute for kind words and genuine love, especially between spouses and siblings, parents and children.
Now, that being said, I think every person struggles to some degree with the lack of love/patience in family and friends. Hope is not lost. There is a simple command and promise in the Book of Mormon to which I serve as a witness:
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love (Moroni 7:48)
It seems simple, and I know that many think they lack so much to be worthy to ask for this love, but nonsense! If we allow Christ's Atonement to work in our loves, regardless of the mistakes we've made, we can change! This promise has helped me really develop genuine love for many people, and let me tell you, it's a sweet feeling.
I want to invite you to pray, both individually, as a couple, and as a family, that ye may be filled with this love. If you do you, your relationships with ALL with fill you with happiness. It's simple.
To finish, thank you very much dear mom and dad for keeping your letters focused on tangible, important things. You guys are the best!
Elder Isaac Blake
Posted by Blake Blogs at 6:04 AM
Saturday, July 18, 2015
Hey Fam and Friends,
This week has been really solid - finishing up winter break up here in Salta - we've tried to get out on splits with the members and we've had decent success. We're finding and teaching and talking with everyone, and like I've said, it feels good to be busy.
Hmmm, I'm really not sure much of what to share. I suppose a few experiences and anecdotes.
Since I've arrived here at the mission (office) I've gradually learned a lesson on personal accountability and what it means to magnify your calling. Once you turn 18, 19, 20 etc, you often don't have anyone over your shoulder. Mom isn't (or doesn't hire) a babysitter anymore. Usually, no one's gonna tell you to go to bed on time or exercise or study the scriptures or say your prayers or do your homework. It's being very reassuring for me as I've been able to maintain a personal desire (and often literal hunger) to study the Gospel and diligently pray and fast, even amidst what often feels like a 9-5 job and then normal area proselytizing from 5-9. It's something that gives me a lot of hope for the transition to the real world...
Something that really helped me to keep these habits going despite the distractions was something Pres. Packard supposedly taught, saying that spiritual progressing isn't a straight line on the graph, but rather has it's increases and decreases. When we realize we're sliding, we can repent and know that a leap is in store.
But yeah, I've really seen great leaps in the productivity and spiritual power we have here in Mitre since we tightened up some loose screws with obedience and especially comp study and weekly planning. Obedience (repentance) brings blessings. Night and Day.
This week, we've had some really good lessons with our families.
The Chuychuys told us last night that their goal is to read the BoM before the ward temple trip in January, and then make the trip!
The Tejerina family is looking stronger. Miguel is a less active member who came to church a month ago by himself and said he wanted to get active and that his wife and kids get baptized. Well wife and kids haven't been progressing much, but on Tuesday, we went and one more of their sons, Antonio (20) told us he wants to give up drugs and that he thinks the Church could help. He came to the ward FHE and loved it. We're praying they all go to church tomorrow.
E' Rodriguez found a really sincere investigator, Jorge (23) in splits last week and this week, Jorge has had some great questions and prayed to ask if the Book of Mormon is true and felt that God responded. He said he was literally "hungry for knowledge."
I'm very grateful to be able to see the marvelous affects of the Gospel and the Holy Ghost in the lives of humble people who want to know and live the truth. I think a lot about what it takes for anyone to want to follow Jesus Christ, and at the end of the day it's a personal choice. What I can say is that my personally choice turned commitment and covenant is the greatest source of happiness and satisfaction in my life. I know that Jesus Christ is the way, and that His path and teachings have been restored in our days through the prophet Joseph Smith.
Love, Elder Blake
Posted by Blake Blogs at 10:46 AM
Sunday, July 12, 2015
Hahaha well I've still got a good way to go before the finish line, but this title is pounding in my head. E' Rodriguez and I are on fire this week - we've done splits with different members 3 of the last five days and are literally setting the streets on fire. We're contacting everyone and teaching the members to open their mouths too. Life is great when you've got a lot of work to do.
We're also getting up earlier to get after it on the exercise front, which is giving me some added energy.
Highlights of the week: the Chuychuy family (see pics)
June 27 they got baptized, and I think it was perhaps the best baptismal service I've had so far on my mission. The members came thru with good talks and decorations and of course food. Daniel gave the closing prayer and killed it.
We've had lunch with them, and had a few lessons as well, and they're progressing really really well. I think the absolute best part was last Sunday (sounds like both Elder Blakes had great fast and testimony meetings). In the middle of the meeting, Gabriela followed by Daniel got up and bore their testimonies in front of all. The best part being that no one else told them or pressured them. They were both really sincere and I had an ear to ear grin on my face.
Then a few days ago when we vistited them, Daniel said the closing prayer and said something like, "Thanks for the visit of the brethren, which is very necessary... And we ask thee to help us continue to prepare to enter the temple worthily"... I was (am) in heaven.
I'm so happy to hear about Brigham's successes in his ministry, and share one of my favorite scriptures : Alma 30:34
One other highlight of the week was a simple contact I did in a taxi - I'll have to tell the story in person to do it justice, but the recap: There's a taxi driver than often drives us and has a big mouth. He knows we're missionaries and live strict standards, so he likes to swear and joke around about going to bars or clubs, and always asked when we're gonna go with him. Hahaha well, I wasn't gonna have it this time, and I just said, "Man, why do you talk like that?" He said he's happy like that, and that we should live a little, and I proceeded to tell him what I think (and believe and know) strongly is true happiness: family, friends, and preparing to meet God. In about a 15 minutes trip, and pulled out all the stops and could see the Spirit touching a hard heart. By the end, he sincerely accepted a Book of Mormon and Mosiah 3. It was one of the most rewarding experiences in a long time, being a vessel for the Spirit to touch someone else who (whether he thinks so or not) is looking for more meaning and satisfaction in life. I'm excited to keep speaking and teaching and inviting out of love in the world that awaits me for the rest of my life.
Love you all - find ways to pick up the pace and keep running!
Posted by Blake Blogs at 5:48 AM
Saturday, July 4, 2015
Today's the 4th of July, but it's kinda a bummer cause its raining and cold... And also kinda weird because the only kind of craziness/excitement you'll see here is for a big soccer game - Argentina vs. Chile for the "Copa America." So yeah, tried my best to wear the stars and stripes out on the soccer field today (btw - took one for the team when I was playing goalie - saved a shot with my face...)
The week has been really solid and rewarding - had a lot of hub-bub (sp?) with a group of missionaries leaving (RIP Slighting) and a new one arriving. My old comp E' Tello is off to the south, training and white-washing a small branch - he's a stud and will do great!
E' Rodriguez and I have gotten after it. We're establishing a good teaching pool - completing the Coronel and Tejerina families as well as teaching a new family, the Alvarez, who actually contacted us in the street 2 days ago.
Enrique (about 35) and Jesus (15 or so) came up to us and Enrique was basically distraught. He told us that his wife is in the hospital and is struggling for her life. He also proceeded to tell us (the majority was received by Agustina Flores, a member who was accompanying us) that he and his family are really really struggling financially. It was sad, but also really upliffting to see Agustina and E' Rodriguez really empathize with him - E' Rodriguez spoke from the heart and hugged them. We gave them a Book of Mormon and told them we'd take them to the hospital the next day to see Isabel, his wife.
So yesterday we went and had a powerful experience giving Isabel a blessing, as well as teaching Enrique in the waiting room. He's barely learning to read so that's gonna be tough, but he's excited and seems to be a lot more hopeful about the future. Then today we invited them to play futbol and had a great time.
For me, transitions aren't very fun - I was a little blue saying goodbye to E' Slighting and E' Tello, but quickly was able to see all the good in my two new comps and the week was really good. I'm especially excited to get to know E' Contreras even more - he seemed really quiet and serious, but he likes to talk hahahh. We've driven quite a bit together and he's told me some good jokes, about his life, what he likes to do etc. He's such a great dude.
I've been trying to recommit myself to 100% obedience and diligence, especially with the little things. I read a D. Todd Christofferson speech that really inspired me. He said something along the lines of 'it's exciting to know that we can expand our freedom as we perfect our obedience.' I've really liked diving into the Scriptures and words of modern-prophets this week. Made me think - Dad, I think you usually have the habit of listening to the scrips in the car as you commute, right? That's great, and I love doing the same (in the shower,) but I had a realization this week. I listened to and studied on paper the same Christofferson speech, and recieved 100 times more revelation and inspiration studying slowly on paper. I don't know your routine, but please take at least 15-30 mins to dive into your paper scrips and the Conf. Ensigns every day (just in case you aren't). That's an invite to all - it'll make a huge difference!
Last thought - Uncle Stu, thanks for your letter. I'm completely certain that Davis and I will be mission comps on the other side of the veil for at least one transfer.
Love you all so much! Be grateful for the beautiful land of America - don't take it for granted.
Elder Isaac Blake
Posted by Blake Blogs at 2:21 PM
Saturday, June 27, 2015
It's been a pretty good week over here in Salta. Started off with the Chuychuy's wedding which was great, then they came to church on Sunday. I've worked with a new comp every day of the week, which is my life since being here in Mitre...
My new official proselyting comp is E' Rod, who's a young boss from Colombia. He's got fire which is great cause I STILL DO TOOOOO!!!!! Don't try to start to thinking that just because I'm a mission senior citizen doesn't mean I don't stilll get after it. We are starting to find some great investis.
I got to work in splits with my absolute homeboy Elder Philpot this week. He's a ZL in Salta Oeste, the first zone I was in. I was kinda nervous honestly because we worked so well together back in Nov, but it's been a while since we've been together for an extended period of time. Well, I calmed my fears... Hahahah we went out around 5 and struck up a conversation from the first minute together till we made it back to the apt (stopping and talking with almost every person that crossed our path to break it up). I was amazed at just how much I connect with him. We have a lot in common and our missions have followed very similar patterns. I told him - he's become one of my best friends in the whole world.
It's made me reflect this week about friendship. Elder Slighting has also become one of my best friends. I feel soooo lucky to have been able to get to know so many great people in my life, especially because up until I was 14 I never really felt very comfortable socially. Just wanna give a shout out to all of you, but especially Matty Law, Pich, Big Mac, Ned Holmes, Tim and Kev Superko, the Ainges, Hugh Roberts, Dallin Padgett, and other mission comps. I feel very blessed to have such great friends.
Thursday, my new comp arrived from Tucuman - E' Contreras from Chile. He finishes in Nov. He's a warrior, a real role-model. He's 25, and the only member of the church in his fam. He got baptized around 16 and told me that the missionaries knocked on his door practically every day for a week so they could talk with him - he hid or made excuses, because he wasn't really interested in hearing about a church or Jesus. But they persisted and look where he's at now... Such a boss. He's humble and focused, and it'll be great working with him.
So yesterday, Pres showed us the transfer board and what he'd done with the areas. We discussed the movement and organization of some zones and areas, then he finalized and we spent all afternoon/night organizing the bus trips and etc. Tomorrow we'll pass the info to the ZLs by telephone and then they're off.
Gonna miss 2 great comps - E' Tello who's gonna be white-washing an area and training! And E' Slighting who's also white-washing an area - his house hahaha. I hope to stay in touch with both and Slighting and I will for sure get together in Provo and drink mate (hahahahaha mom your little email made us all laugh so hard. Mate is like the Argentines' water - but I personally don't like it at all. We're prohibited to drink it from a straw/share with anyone else, but it's very popular in 'saquitos?' like an herbal tea.) (It's the go to breakfast because it's so cheap - think about it, it's literally grass in a bag, boiled...).
But yeah, that's about it. Love you guys.
I've been studying talks from GC and the LdM this week. Had some epiphanies reading Christofferson's talk from Apr 2015 - Made me excited (but not too much) to find a fantastic girl and get married. I highly recommend it. A gospel centered home with 2 equally yoked parents is SOOO important. Mom and Dad, I'll thank you better in person, but you need to know just how grateful I am for what you've done for me, the love you have for me, and the doors you open to our family.
Elder Isaac Blake
Posted by Blake Blogs at 1:00 PM
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Hey fam and friends,
I've been thinking all week about some deep topics, and perspectives that really influence me in who I am and what I do. The phrase "you only live once" resounds in my head as I meditate such things as life, death, the future, the past.
I firmly believe, I'd say to the point that I know, that we don't and won´t only live once. We lived before we were born and we will live again after we die.
The decisions we make in this life have and will have an enormous impact on what kind of life we have after we die. There are absolute truths in the universe, and thus there are absolute consequences. We're not here to just 'live it up.' For every good decision we make, there will follow good consequences, and for every bad decision we make, there will follow bad consequences.
Now, I don't really understand why the consequences come when they do. It really isn't fair sometimes. But I believe in God, and I trust that His timing is better than ours.
One of my favorite scriptures is found in the Bible - Matt. 6:19-20
I feel so strongly that if we choose to serve others, and do good, and be obedient to God's commandments, even if we don't fully understand why, that we will build for ourselves a heavenly home in the life to come, brick by brick, beam by beam. This is what I hope to say motivates every decision I make. Will doing this or that help someone else? Will it make me and my family happy? Is it worth my time, or is there something better I can do right now?
This week, I got to work in splits with a few close friends. Elder Edwards, one of my past comps, Elder Hymas, and Elder Gerber. While I'm sure I'll be able to see and be with Edwards and Hymas after my mission, I don't know if I'll ever see Elder Gerber again in this life. He's from Brazil. But I do know that if we both continue to strive to serve others and obey God, we'll see each other again on the other side. This same feeling motivates me to serve and love the people of Argentina. I don't know if I'll ever see these people again in this life, but I do know that if we're faithful, we'll see each other again on the other side.
There will come a point in the life of every person in this world when the natural consequences of life in this world will corner them in darkness. They will fill their mind with questions that don't seem to have answers. I've been there, and I know people who have been there too.
I believe that in such a moment, the only way out is through prayer. Communication with God. He's the one who sent us here, and He's the one who hopes we make it home after parting this life. He has the answers. He loves us more than we can imagine. And he's prepared a way that makes it possible for us to be sure that the good consequences relinquish the bad ones.
Jesus Christ is the way.
If we reach out to Him, He will comfort us.
If we learn of Him, our questions will become answers, security.
I know with profound security that He suffered and died for us. He gave His life for our sins, on the condition that we humble ourselves and repent, and overcame death so that we may do so also. If we repent and dedicate ourselves to serving and helping others so that they may do the same, we will assure for ourselves eternal happiness and security. We don't only live once.
Let us enjoy this life; every day, every hour, every minute that we have to better ourselves and those around us. Let us not waste away our time in things that belong to this earth, for we surely will not be able to take them with us. I love you guys so much. I'm gonna keep working and enjoying this precious time I have to really lose myself in the lives of others.
Love, Elder Blake
Posted by Blake Blogs at 7:26 AM