February 2011-August 2012

25 February 2011

Week 1

WOW. Hard to imagine that it's only been a week here at the MTC. I have learned SO much already! THank you so much to everyone who has written & sent me packages this week!!! I can't tell you how loved I've felt from all of you, so thank you thank you thank you!!!

Well, I'll start off at the beginning. I have two companions here. Hermana Ponaveitongo (pronounced Bone-a-vay-tongo, where the "ng" sound is said as in "tongue") is Tongan and from Hawaii. Her family is full-blooded Tongan and very true to their culture, so I'm LOVING learning about those fun things with her. She speaks ENglish, TOngan, Hawaiian Pigeon, Samoan, and now Spanish. It's awesome. SHe is a convert to the church, 3 years ago to the day we entered the MTC. She is the only member in her immediate family, and they have mostly disowned her entirely. Her faith, I have no doubt, can move mountains. She is incredible & adds a wonderful spirit to all our lessons. I love her! My other companion, Hermana Randall, is from Orem, Utah. Her father is not a member, and her mother has been inactive most of her life. Her older brother is on a mission in Tennessee speaking Spanish, and her younger sister will put in her papers about the same time as Tanner. She is a bright young woman who isn't afraid to work hard. Her dedication to the Gospel and her purpose as a missionary is a great example & encourages me to be better. Both of them are delightful & have truly enriched my life in just one short week. They are both serving in California Ventura, which is just to the west of my mission.

We are in small groups called districts, with several districts making up a zone. My district consists of us 3 sisters, and 6 elders... 4 from Utah, 1 from Boise, and 1 from Austin, TX. They are all going to be serving in the Mexico City South mission. They are all definitely 19 years old, but they have their moments when they amaze me. It's especially fun to role play & be taught by them. God is truly qualifying each of us for this calling. I am the only one in the district that has never had any Spanish, but I'm working hard to learn. Whenever I can't think of a word in Spanish though, it always comes to mind in German, which I find especially irritating! Between the German, Arabic, Japanese, & English words all floating around in my head, Spanish is having a hard time finding a place to move in and unpack. Progress is slow. But to think that a week ago I could only say #1-6 in Spanish, and now I'm praying, teaching, and reading--at least partially--in Spanish, truly the Gift of Tongues & Interpretation of Tongues is alive and well in Christ's true church on the earth.

The MTC is proof that God is directing His work on the earth. The Spirit here is incredible. I have so much more to tell you about these things. The fireside on Sunday was a musical fireside. AWESOME. THe devotional on Tuesday was given by Elder and Sister Patrick Kearon of the Seventy. They are incredible. I really wanted to tell you all about what they had to say, but I'll have to write that out by hand and have Erika post it on the blog or pass it on to you somehow. I don't have much time left. Just know that the Spirit is palpable here in every meeting. I LOVE IT!

I thought I was just going to "deal with" the role-playing part of class, but I actually L-O-V-E IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You just can't NOT feel the Spirit when you are bearing testimony of eternal truths. I know that I still have a LONG way to go with my Spanish, but there has never been a single missionary reported to have not learned the language they were assigned to speak. So I know it will come if I keep being obedient!

I love this work and I'm SO excited to be a part of it. I love that my role as a missionary is to invite and assist others to come unto Christ, to make eternal covenants with God, and to endure to the end happily. I feel now more than ever just how happy God wants EVERY son and daughter of His to be. I love you all! The work is true!

Hermana Blackburn

P.S. Please write me on dearelder.com instead of email me from now on... I don't have enough time to read all your emails AND write everything I want. Thanks! Loves loves loves!!!

P.P.S. God is waiting to bless our whole family on my behalf. Pray for those blessings. Expect miracles. And then look for His hand in your life. I promise you it will be there!

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