Elder Isaac Blake

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

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Road Trip Down South!

Hey fam,

A few hours ago, Elder Slighting and I got back from a week of splits with the Zone Leaders in the 2 southern provinces - my dear Santiago, and Tucuman. It was awesome - pretty tiring too. We made the trip in a nice little Peugout.

1st - last weekend. Long story short we've got a GREAT young family that kinda just came out of nowhere. Saturday we taught them and they committed to church, and then Sunday they actually gave us a ride to church!! Wow. That just never ever happens here. They were welcomed SO well by the members and LOVED church. I gave a last minute talk on fellowshipping and I think it came out ok. 

Well, Monday morning we verified with the ZLs and then hit the road around 1. It was a good trip - dropped our secretary off in Tucuman (3 hours trip) to do some paperwork, and then went 2 hours further south for Santiago. One of the best parts of these trips will be getting to know Elder Slighting. We're gonna be road-tripping a lot. He asked great, deep questions and we got to each share some of our very influential experiences in life and the mission. I can't say enough about him - he's a servant of Christ and really doesn't focus on himself. Spent 2 nights in my old house in Santiago with Elder Edwards and Elder Reynolds. I was kinda expecting to go around my old area catching up with old friends but then I realized that after being gone only 2 weeks, it was like I'd gone on vacation and then came back - more than anything I just kinda confused some of the people I saw again - EXCEPT, the Alagastin  fam (see pics). They've progressed a ton since I left - that's one of the best feelings, to see that a great fam keeps progressing and converting even when you aren't there. It's almost even better that way because it helps prevent them converting to the missionaries and not the Master, Jesus Christ. They're great and have the goal to get to the Cordoba Temple in a year (about 4 hours from Santiago!!!). Pray for Fernanda, who's a few steps behind her (future) husband in terms of enthusiasm and commitment. 

Wednesday I worked with a great friend, Elder Torres from Piura, Peru, in his area in Concepcion, a smaller city in Tucuman. We did good work. We drove away from there around 10:30pm and made it to the Capital in good time, but then got lost in the city for an hour :( - the doggone main streets change names every 10 blocks. Well, we made it to the ZLs place, but when we got to the gate of their apartment building, the gate was locked, and it was 1 AM! We waiting for 30 mins before they finally picked up their cell. I thought we were gonna sleep in the car...

The next 2 days I worked with 2 "normal" companionship in the 2 zones in Tucuman. 1st with Elder Urmston (Spanish Fork, UT - 6 months), then Elder Garrett (Eagle Mountain UT, 10 months, trainer). It was good to work with them, and I was impressed - they work well and are pretty committed to the work, with desires to bring about much good in the lives of others!

Spent the last night in Elder Slighting's old apartment in the Tucuman Zone, with our good friends Elder Hymas (Pleasant Grove, UT - we came here together), and Elder Huaman (Peru). We love Elder Hymas - he's just great in all that he does. He was Elder Slighting's last comp, and it was great to see him. 

Well, here we are, today. I learned this week the importance of good exercise when your traveling, so you don't get wiped out. Also, I'm trying to really improve the quality of my prayers and studies when I'm on the road and out of the routine so to speak - it's really a great transition to the real world. Still a missionary but without the cushion of the rigid schedule and some-what mechanical day-to-day.

Love life and love the Gospel. I know that God lives and loves. Let us all speak kind words to each other!!

Elder Isaac Blake
Raquel's baptism 2 weeks ago.

 Our car - let's play "I spy Elder Blake"
Asado in a restaurant - rip off, although good food.

An investigator opened up a street cart selling sausage. Don't worry, he's got a permit O.o - 



Monday, April 20, 2015

Divide and Conquer

Hey fam,

This week has been good and tiring, like a good week should be. Right about the time I signed off last week, we had to head to the church to fill the baptismal font! There was a water shortage, probably the exact same thing that HAPPened with Brigham and Manuel's baptism in SF. We filled the font with a good old fashioned bucket brigade for a bout 2 hours!! 

Raquel's baptism was AWESOME! Tons of member support, including a fantastic talk by her neighbor that has helped her learn and live the gospel.

Sunday, we had a few surprise investigators show up to Church so that was awesome. We're arming a good pool of people who wanna follow Christ and strengthen their families as they prepare to be baptized and live the Gospel. 

Monday we spent the day verifying with the Zones and organizing our Leadership Council, which we delivered on Tuesday. I gave one of my favorite trainings (?) (not sure what the word would be in English -- capacitación) on the subject of speaking with everyone and teaching as we find. Spoke and testified of the importance of opening our mouths and sharing the Gospel at all times, and then we practiced using inspired Qs in contacts to spark and discover interests and needs. 

From Tuesday till today, I've done splits every day (and actually Monday as well because E Slighting and I had to organize everything here, so we went out together in my area and worked, which is apparently very rare, that both APs get to work together. We both decided it was great, and he very sincerely and lovingly told me at the end of the day that he really enjoyed working with me. I concur) (Is concur a word in English?)

Tuesday I worked with Elder Threet (see pics). We hit it off immediately. He was comps with Elder Miño (shout out to my son Elder MIIIIÑÑÑÑÑOOOOO). He played Outside Linebacker in HS and is a beast. During lunch, he asked me what my secret to a successful mission has been. I couldnt think of anything to say so I said, "how about we work together today?" -- an attempt to better show than tell. Not sure if it worked too well because the only plans we had were to contact referralls and we ended up just contacting all day (I was dead tired at night.) It all paid off at the end though - taught Camila, a teenage girl we are trying to help get back to church. Camila's little sister isn't a member but we invited her to sit down and she ended up accepting a baptismal date. Woooo! It was cool working with E Threet because it felt like I was working with Brigham a bit.

Wed - worked with a young (5 months) Colombian Elder (from Bogotá) named Elder Cruz. Also hit it off immediately with him. Another slow day contacting and teaching with him, but found a few good families. 

Thurs - worked with Elder Thompson from Highland UT - a great guy, great friend. He was my homeboy Elder Philpot's ZL in Oran and we spent the day in his area also contacting and teaching. He's gonna be heading to BYU and starting freshman year along with me and  Elder Slighting. I loved his sincerity in testifying and he speaks impeccable Spanish. 

The highlight of each split was the inventory - something we're trying to emphasize as leaders. We sit down together, pray, and then analize the day. I personally take it as a time to point out every good thing I can see in my new comp. Shower him with sincere compliments. (Hahaha that means throughout the whole day I'm constantly looking for the good in him - a GREAT exercise that I recommend to all, especially those of you who are married). Anyways, with each Elder, I felt soo good as I sincerely expressed my love and appreciation for what they do. Each one of my companions is a boss. I especially connected with Elder Thompson - there's power in say and mean good things about other people. Another thing I loved is that each one of my companions asked me, "what can I do to improve?" I asked the same thing. That opens the door for loving, constructive suggestions. 

All in all, this week has opened my eyes and changed my perspective on the missionaries in the mission. They're incredible. I can feel the love they have for our Savior and for the people around them. I can tell that there is a general desire to do good and be obedient. Love it out here. 

Elder Isaac Blake
Elder Tello has pics that are way better, but here are 2 from Raquel's baptism.

Filling the font with buckets

Me and my boy Elder Threet from Orem, Utah. We did splits this week.


Saturday, April 11, 2015

First Week in Mitre

Hey fam,

It's been a crazy week here in my new area. Since I wrote ya'll, we had to pass all the transfers to the ZLs and make sure every single missionary got their bus tickets and made it to their new areas. Some poor missionaries have to travel 12 hours by bus!!

The best transfer news was that my beloved companion E' Miño got called to train. I'm sending a pic of the 3 of us. His 'hijo' is Elder Brady Bethers from Cary NC. He's a great guy - speaks a lot of Spanish for his first day and is really excited. Elder Slighting and I helped Pres with the training of the trainers and new missionaries. I got kinda nervous for my first segment, but was much better when I spoke on obedience. It's gonna be a lot of fun training these next few months. 

The day before, we helped the missionaries leaving get to the airport etc, and also received the 5 new missionaries and ate dinner with them at Pres´ house. 

Wednesday we finally got to work in my area. The other AP is Elder Slighting from Alpine, Utah - we'll be together for 3 months- Then my companion for proselytism is Elder Tello. He's great. I feel very blessed because today we have a baptism! Elder Tello and Elder Trollip (previous AP) have worked really hard here. Our first baptism is named Raquel. She's one of the most prepared converts I've met, and we've taught her every day this week. She's really excited -  It's gonna be awesome to see her keep progressing!

Thursday and Friday we spent a good part of the day meeting with Pres to discuss the plans for this transfer. We're gonna have a visit from Elder Viñas, of the 1st Quorum of the 70. We're starting to organize the 3 multizone conferences. It looks like Elder Slighting and/or I will be giving talks in these conferences O.o! I'm super stoked. 

One of the best parts about being here in this position is being able to know and work with a lot more missionaries. Every week, a group of elders comes to the offices and sleeps at our house for 2 days so that they can do visa papers. It means I get to catch up with old friends and get to know new ones. I'm striving to meet and greet with a lot of love. I would have loved to chat with a friendly, experienced missionary every once and a while when I was still young. That's something I am consciously trying to do is see life from someone else's sandals and treat them like someone very important - because they are!

Other miscellaneous thoughts:

I'll have the chance to visit converts here in Salta and hopefully in my travels in our trusty Ford Ranger as we visit the different zones in the mission. I LOVE the people I've been able to meet here and am pumped to see them again!

I started practicing driving stick 2 days ago - it's coming back quickly - Don't worry, I'll be very safe!

Love my comps - Elder Slighting is a great person. Seriously one of the best, most Christlike, humble, powerful, good men I know. We'll be starting at BYU together and look forward to being his friend for a long time!

Stealing advice from Pres. Packard thru mom - "love the person in front of you." I'm out of time but can testify of the power and importance of the Christlike attributes, like Charity, patience, and obedience. 

Love, Elder Isaac Blake
With Elder Alvarez (Honduras) - he lived with me for my first 2 transfers

With Elder Brazell (Logan) and Elders Tello (my comp) and Llanque. Brazell and Llanque are in Alberdi, where I trained and where Leandro and his fam live.

With Elder Starkey (Elder Philpots hijo)  - LOVE YOU PHILPOT, YOU'RE A BOSS

With E Miño and Bethers

Overlooking Salta

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Back to the Valley

Hey fam,

Surprise!! (He's writing on Saturday - his new preparation day)
Happy Conference Morning!

Hahah I got transferred O.o, back to the good old city of Salta, where it all began! My new area is called Mitre 1 and my comps are Elder Slighting from Utah (went to Lone Peak) and Elder Tello from Peru. I'm super pumped to be back, love the mountains, the clouds, and the people!

This week has been interesting, kinda tough and not so ordinary, but I've been down in the trenches learning a lot. The only 2 days E Edwards and I were able to work in our area were Mon and Tues - We got after it. Monday night was highlighted by a Family Home Evening with our number one fam the Alagastins. They made a ton (maybe a little too much) food and we watched the 20 min video "The Restoration." E Edwards and his new comp are gonna have a great time teaching them as they prepare to get married and baptized! Marcelo said he got goosebumps and Camila (9) said that the Book of Mormon and the missionaries and the church have changed her life... hahahah wow, what a blessing! Fernanda is still a few steps behind in terms of enthusiasm, but she'll come along as they keep seeing the happiness and the blessings in their lives!

Tuesday was a fairly normal work day in the area and Wednesday we had District Meetings and then took off for Frias, a small city about 3 hours from Santiago where we have 2 Elders. Had a good bus ride and spent the afternoon finding and teaching with Elder Lemus from El Salvador. Around 8:30 (we have to be home at 10) we didn't have any more appointments and the plans they'd made fell through. I decided to try a good old tactic that seemed to work ok with Elder Miño in Jujuy - we stood under a tree and I offered a prayer, asking that God guide us to a family that needed help and wanted to get closer to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. We felt we should walk down a certain path and about the 4th house we approached there was a young couple eating "dinner." We contacted the woman and it turns out she has a member friend that had invited her to church many times, but never went. They were really open and we had a good first lesson with them. They accepted a baptismal invite and should progress there! I love being and instrument in His hands to help His children.

Thursday we did weekly planning with the elders, and headed out from Santiago. Around 5 I was studying when Pres called me and told me to get on a bus for Salta. Yesterday I got here around 10 AM and as the bus pulled into Salta, I was making a list of all the people in Limache that I wanna go back and visit. The 1st person on the list = Hno Correa and family. Well, who but Hno. Correa just happens to be in the bus terminal with his fam! Hahaha it was a miracle. I love him and his fam and will be trying to get over to their house on P-Day to visit and keep teaching them. I was very pleasantly informed by him that he made it to the Temple in Paraguay in Feb and was endowed. He got baptized 3 years ago and kicked a ferocious alcohol addiction. 

Well, gotta get ready for conference. I'll keep praying for all you if you pray for me! And pray for me that I can be safe behind the wheel of a manual truck! It's gonna be a stressful weekend heading into the next week (transfers), and I'm gonna be working on staying focused these last 4 months! 

Love ya'll

Elder Blake

Carlos Calderon, a convert of 1 year in our branch

With Luis and his dad


With Hna Pazpinto (the sister that lives in front of us)
New compa E Slighting

Studying at home
Saying goodbye to E Edwards - love ya dude!

I spy Isaac (pic found on FB)

Sending off the returning missionaries 4/8/2015 (pic found on FB)