February 2011-August 2012

17 March 2011

Week 4

So. PHEW. Where do I even begin? I guess at the beginning...

What would I ever do without the Gospel of Jesus Christ in my life? Because I know the truth, I can get through anything! I can DO HARD THINGS! I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. And so can all of you!

So we had an awesome Sunday Fireside by the administrative director of the MTC here... it was about the journey of conversion. So good. Monday night I had a pow wow with my two wonderful Jerusalem friends--Kelsey Berrett, who will be serving in Brazil, and Michelle Neeley who will be serving in Guatemala City. Sister Neeley left on Tuesday for the Guatemala MTC, so we spent her last night together enjoying each other's company. SO good to be with these wonderful sisters and catch some glimpses of my life "before" haha. It sounds so cheesy, but it's really hard to even remember it some days! Tuesday night we had a fantastic devotional by Elder and Sister Richard Maynes of the 1st Quorum of the Seventy. SO good. One thing that really stuck out to me that I can recall in this moment was to "be the missionary your mother imagines you are..." and I extend that to "be the missionary that everyone you touch imagines you are..." That means all of you. So thanks for all of your encouragement and for giving me a reason to try even harder to be even better.

This week has been a huge rollercoaster ride though, as I imagine many of the next 18 months will be...

Monday my companions and I were able to grow ever more united during a fantastic companionship inventory... which is like a DTR for our companionship. haha But seriously... SO GOOD. The Spirit was so powerful and it was exactly what we needed to grow even closer. We decided to change our teaching tactics in order to facilitate the Spirit better. Monday afternoon we go to teach a man named Mike, and he doesn't want to let us in. He is crying and asks us to come back in a few days. We asked to pray with him before we left--he let us in, and after we prayed, he began to unload his burdens onto us. His son and grandson were in a car accident and aren't expected to live. After my two companions bore their testimonies about God's Plan for us, I was able to bear my testimony of Jesus Christ. I read to him Alma 7:11-12, and I told him of how I personally knew that Christ could fix anything if we let Him, and if we did what He asked us to do, such as being baptised by the proper priesthood authority which is once again on the earth, and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost to be our constant companion and comforter. I prayed again with him before we left and he accepted my invitation to have a couple priesthood holders come and give him and his son and grandson blessings. The Spirit was so powerful as we bore witness to these eternal truths and the hope that we can all find in coming unto Christ. All three of us sisters left bawling...

Tuesday we show up to teach David, a 19 year old college student who is living away from home, and he says he doesn't want to meet with us anymore. We inquire about what happened, and he says his mom has threatened to cut him off financially if he continues to meet with us. Then, my dear sweet companion, who has faced similar family challenges but over came them, bore her testimony. He allowed us in to pray with him, and after we prayed we each bore our testimonies and we gave him Ether 12 to read and to pray about how he could apply it to his life. Again, the Spirit was very powerful, and we all left crying...

So why should it come as ANY surprise that Wednesday would hold its own challenge? It shouldn't have... Hermana Ponaveitongo got called to the office to call home.... never a good sign. She calls home and talks to her mom, and she is told that her grandfather passed away. For some this might not be a big deal, but it definitely is different in the Tongan culture. She is the oldest grandchild, so she is supposed to be in charge of the funeral... her not going home for the funeral is the biggest dishonor that she could give to the man who raised her. Heartbreaking for her. As the only member in her family, her mom just screamed at her telling her she's living in a fantasy land thinking that she will ever see her grandfather again. She also said that if she didn't come home for the funeral (April 1), that she would be cut off from her family forever. She just kept bearing her testimony to her mom. This young woman is so strong, and as her faith is being tried, the Lord continues to strengthen her. It is customary for them to grow out their hair and cut it when someone dies... So last night she had me chop all of her hair off... If I've sent you pictures then you can see how long and gorgeous her hair used to be... I'll send more pictures later so you can see the difference. So hard for her, and for us to watch her grieve. Not only for her grandfather who raised her, but also for her whole family who truly might not ever talk to her again. But Luke 9:57-60 has given her strength to keep her resolve of staying here. What an incredible example she is. I love her! Please pray for her and her family though!

The temple was amazing and definitely much needed today. 16 family names all received initiatories... such a wonderful experience.

Mom, Dearelder DID work. Write me more!!

Well, it's flashing only 1:25 left, so I better send this off. I love you all so very much!!

Hermana Blackburn

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