February 2011-August 2012

27 September 2011

September 27, 2011 The Big Move

Well this week was relatively uneventful. We spent most of the week moving. And my companion is still recovering from a bout with walking pneumonia... so she is still building back up her energy. But thank goodness for antibiotics! :)

So, for the record, we LOVE our new apartment. Seriously, it is SO NICE to have our own space. I almost forgot what it was like, but it is delightful!
And my Golden birthday... it was a normal missionary day for the most part, but there were definitely some highlights.

1) With Latinos it's often a tradition to shove the birthday person's face in the cake... well Elder Castro attempted, but he missed. And I shoved it in his face instead! hahaha... Definitely a HIGHLIGHT! ;) He is from Ecuador, and finishes his mission next week. He's awesome and we've become good friends, lest any of you think that he was being mean... it was all in fun. And it was priceless to see the look on his face covered in chocolate mouse... HAHAHAHA. Definitely a great birthday moment!

2) The Elder Castro and Elder Thacker also gave me a cheesecake! SO GOOD!
3) I got really sweet cards from Tim & Jan, my companion, and Elder Skylar Blackburn.
4) Elder Riggs gave me a Mark Mabry photograph--Christ healing the Blind Man. It is BEAUTIFUL! You will all be jealous when you see it. ;) haha

5) I had a delivery man knock on our door with two boxes full of DARK chocolate covered strawberries and apples... THANKS Erika & John!!!! YUUUUUMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)
6) We had another delightful & ridiculous lesson with our favorite Vladmir. He may or may not have kissed me... hahahahaha... Don't worry. If he did, it was probably on the cheek...
7) The RS General Broadcast was AWESOME. Beautiful. Inspiring. Encouraging. Empowering. Everything I needed it to be. I LOVED ALL of the talks, but of course, President Uchtdorf's words were especially memorable. But more than his words, I loved that I could feel his love and the love of the Savior for His daughter's as he spoke. If you haven't read or listened to the talk yet, DO IT. You're going to LOVE IT!!!

Thank you again to all of the love and support I receive from you all. Especially, thank you for your prayers. The last few weeks have been hard on the work with my companion being so sick. Thankfully, we still laugh all the time. It is amazing what a HUGE difference it makes when you really do have companionship UNITY and you are actually FRIENDS. Oh my goodness... I'm learning SO MUCH about life and marriage in particular while on my mission... And I'm REALLY grateful that I live in a culture where I get to CHOOSE my eternal companion for myself. PHEW! haha ;)

Well, I love you all and I hope you are all handling the big changes and the small daily decisions well! It's hard for me to believe just HOW MUCH I'm missing at home. Tanner's Mission Call. Lilly!!! The move across the country. Seriously, that is a LOT of change coming to our family in a really short amount of time. But, we are champs at handling change, aren't we? ;) Keep up the great work everyone!!!

Hermana Blackburn

19 September 2011

September 19, 2011 Miracles DO happen. EVERY. DAY.

Well, CONGRATULATIONS on selling the house!!! I can't believe that I am officially going to be homeless... :/ haha But seriously, I'm so very grateful that our prayers have been answered and that Heavenly Father is pouring out His blessings upon you all!! Good luck on the move to St. George! I hope that Tanner, Logan, Liz, and Lilly all figure out what they are doing and can make their life changes with confidence! :)

Well, my dear companion is really sick, and was sick all last week. The problem with living in a tiny apartment with 7 people... if one person gets sick, you're all bound to get sick! Needless to say, we weren't able to leave very much... but we are making progress with Vladmir. He is reading the Book of Mormon like crazy, which is AWESOME! He still won't come to church... he wants some time... But we're hopeful that as he continues to prayerfully read the Book of Mormon, that his desires will begin to change. That is normally what happens as we read the Book of Mormon. It brings the Spirit into our lives faster and stronger than anything else can. And The Spirit helps us soften our hearts and change our desires. It is one of my favorite things to witness as a missionary. :) Speaking of the Book of Mormon, I hope you ALL are thoroughly studying the AWESOME issue of the Ensign this month, entirely on the Book of Mormon! What a FANTASTIC resource for all of us!

On another VERY exciting front, WE ARE MOVING!!!!!! Remember that tiny apartment I mentioned above??? The one we are sharing with the Nunez family... well we are FINALLY getting our own place. We are SO excited. I love the Nunez family, and they definitely helped me A TON last transfer. But it is time. There are 3 more people in the process of moving into the apartment, and no where for them to go. So they are just always sleeping on the couches. Pobrecitos. And we are constantly left to entertain their 4yr old granddaughter. So we're hoping that our new place will be a much more conducive place to feeling the Spirit and receiving the much needed revelation to guide and direct the work in this area. So we start moving in on Wednesday. Here is my new address:

14078 Astoria St. #204
Sylmar, CA 91342

We are also hoping that our new apartment will be COCKROACH-FREE. And up to earthquake code... haha. ;)

Well, because we spent so much time IN this week, I spent A LOT of time studying and receiving revelation. Some of the things we learned about from Zone Conference just kept playing over and over in my mind. And as Hna. Erickson and I discussed them, and studied more specific things, we received A LOT of revelation. Awesome!! Basically in a nut shell it led me to think what my missionary "covenant" is, and what the "ordinances" are that I am supposed to do to validate my covenant. (Elder Golden told us that ordinances validate covenants...) So I have lots of study notes from several days, but I won't bore you with those. But it just really led me to understand that just like any other ordinance we do in the church, that there are correct and approved manners to do things like studies, prayers, planning, and obeying missionary rules. And by doing these things, like ordinances, in the correct manner established by Heavenly Father, I validate the "covenant" for the rest of the day... Basically that meaning that I will do everything I can to teach by the Spirit every day, and in return God will lead me to His children who are ready to accept and receive the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ RIGHT NOW. Isn't that cool? Tanner LEARN THIS. To double our success as missionaries, we don't have to double our efforts. We just have to "sharpen our sickles" so to speak by doing the small and simple things every day. Pray. Study. Plan. Be obedient. And GOD WILL HELP EVERYTHING ELSE TURN OUT. I don't know why all this time I've been trying to complicate things. It really is THAT SIMPLE! And we can do the same thing as MEMBER MISSIONARIES, too! WHAT GREAT FORTUNE!!! :)

I got a phone call a couple days ago that made me SO happy!! You'll never believe it, because I almost didn't! But do any of you remember the Tovar family from Canyon COuntry? The ones that Hna. Kiewra and I found my FIRST day in the mission, and started visiting almost every day for 3 months? Well Leonor, and her two oldest daughters Carla and Maria got BAPTIZED YESTERDAY!!!!!!!! That is 3 out of the 8 people in their family! And the only other one older than 8 right now is Carlos, the father. I hope that he will start progressing now that Leonor has proved she is committed! :) I seriously am SO HAPPY for them!!! I wasn't able to go to the baptism, but the ordinance is still valid, even without me there! ;)

Well, I just want you all to know that I LOVE you and am so grateful for all of your love and support!! Happy Birthday to Aunt Jan, Angela, and Jack Tingey all on Saturday! I have the best birthday buddies EVER!! :) Well, keep expecting those miracles!! God IS SOOO good to us! :)

Hermana Blackburn

13 September 2011

September 13, 2011 What's in a Name? Like AUNT!!!!!!

Well, I had A LOT of things on my mind that I wanted to write about today... but when I opened up my email and there was an announcement that I'm now an AUNT... everything else seems SO UNIMPORTANT!!! haha Seriously, I can't even compare anything I had to say with that beautiful baby girl. So congratulations, Logan and Liz!! And welcome to the world Lilly Adzo Blackburn!! And will someone PLEEEEAAAAAASSSEEEEEEE get this new aunt some PICTURES!!!

Ok, that being said, yesterday we had Zone Conference with Elder and Sister Golden of the Seventy and President and Sister Martin. It was a WONDERFUL day, but exhausting! Sometimes learning SO much from the Spirit is overwhelming... Zone Conferences are normally a two-edged sword. I both feel completely uplifted and encouraged, while at the same time disappointed with myself that I am not doing MORE. Because let's be honest... we can ALWAYS do MORE. Or at least that's how I feel. So something I've struggled with as a missionary is knowing if I really have pushed myself to my ABSOLUTE limit, and well, the answer has usually been no. I can always talk to one more person, knock one more door, seek the Spirit just one more time... But I've also come to realize that this is part of the glorious gift of the Atonement. I can continue to push myself more and more, but what I lack, the Savior helps make up the difference. And together, we ARE a perfect team, because HE is perfect! What great fortune!!! I love this gospel so very much!!

And a couple other fun facts: Elder and Sister Golden are from South Africa, so I got a little taste of what Skylar hears from his greenie, Elder Gordon, every day. :) AND Elder Golden told me that he was just in Indy for our Stake Conference and that he STAYED with the Sinclairs! Crazy, huh?! I loved it! It made me so happy to find such a random connection with a man from SOUTH AFRICA and a family from INDIANA... while we're in CALIFORNIA. I love our small world! :)

Last week was actually a pretty slow week, because I sprained my ankle while hiking last week. haha Well, in Spanish, the best way to describe me: "Estoy un disastre!" haha But seriously. Aye well. Hopefully it will heal quickly and we'll be able to start tracting again. But despite it being a slow week, we had some awesome lessons with Vladimir, and he LOVES the Book of Mormon. He really is quite the character... we can't talk for more than 5 minutes at a time without him breaking into song... haha. But something that is especially wonderful about him: he invites EVERYONE to listen to us. His house is a bit like a Mexican fraternity house sometimes, with all these random men fixing cars, etc. in the yard. Last week we showed up for a lesson and there were seriously about 15 people there... only about 5 of them ended up joining us for any amount of time, but hey, that's 4 more people! He is an AWESOME missionary, even if he doesn't know it yet. :)

Have I ever written about all the various names people call me because they can't say Blackburn (Both Latinos AND White people)? Here's just a few of the most popular:
La Otra Hermana-aka "the other sister"
Hermana B. (pronounced 'bay')
Hermana Black
Hermana Blackbum
Hermana Blackbird
Hermana Blackberry
Hermana Quemada-literally Sister Burn
Hermana Negro Quemada-literally Sister Black Burn
Hermana So-and-so's Companera-aka they will only refer to me in 3rd person and only address my companion haha

But I have to be honest, as HAPPY as I am to be an Hermana, nothing can compare to my happiness of now being a Tia!!!! (P.S. Logan and Liz, I like Tia Dana SO much better than Aunt Dana... So I think the Spanish is going to win out for this one and I would like you to start implementing it immediately. No, Seriously...).

Well I love you all and I hope things are going well! Have a great week!!

Loves loves loves!
Hermana Blackburn

06 September 2011

September 6, 2011 I felt the Earth move under my feet... and other exciting acontecimientos!

Well Just another week here in the 'hood as Eryn would say... Oh where do I even begin?!

Well First of all, I know you all want to know about the earthquake... Did I feel it? Yes! Was I scared? Well no... but it also helped that my non-Californian brain did not process it as an earthquake. haha I'll tell you all about it. We came home to eat some lunch and to help Hna. Nunez with some posters for her RS lesson on Sunday. Well I was sitting on my bed (the bottom bunk) doing some extra studying and all of a sudden the top bunk started to shake like Hna. Erickson was jumping on it. I thought somehow I'd missed her coming in and getting on her bed because I was so involved in my study. But then she came in a few minutes later, so I was a little confused, but didn't really think anything after that. Good thing the earthquake wasn't any stronger though because our beds are just stacked upon each other... and the likelihood of me being crushed by the top bunk is actually much higher than 0. Anyway, my companion also had no idea what was going on. She didn't feel anything, but the ceiling fan started to shake. Hna. Nunez jumped up in a panic and opened the door. My companion thought that for some reason they just open the door to help the fan stop shaking. Oh dear... everyone here in California thinks it's SO funny that we don't process earthquakes in the same way. But at least we don't panic, right? ;) Well the epicenter was in Newhall, which is basically where I was before up in Santa Clarita. No real damage was done, but I DID find out that the apartment building we're currently living in never had all the major structural damage from the 1994 earthquake fixed... they just patched the walls and so you can see a line all the way around our apartment. Needless to say, for that and MANY other reasons, we are probably going to move into our own apartment within the next month. :)

Ok what else can I tell you? There have been so many experiences this last week of receiving promptings, acting on them, and seeing the results magnified beyond what we could've hoped. It's been REALLY cool. And it makes me just want to act on ALL of the spiritual promptings I receive! Well, that being said let me share one with you. We were at a late dinner appointment and by the time we finished sharing a message, it was already 9pm, and we still had to take the elders home all the way across town. Well, the Spirit told me throughout our whole lesson that we needed to stop by and see Antonio, our homeless investigator, who actually doesn't live too far from where we were. I kept trying to dismiss it, but it kept coming back. Well, the good thing about being the driver is that you ultimately have control over where you go... ;) So I told the Elders we had to make a quick pit-stop to check on an investigator. Well, the alley where Antonio lives has a gate, and that night it was closed. So we pull open the gate as far as we can and we squeeze through. I wasn't scared at all because the Spirit had told me to go. Hna. Erickson was a little sketched out, but she trusts me. I think the Elders were a little concerned though, they like good elders, they followed us crazy sisters "just in case." Did I mention that one of the Elders is a greenie? ... he only had 10 days here when this happened... haha. Well we found Antonio, and he looked much better than the last time we saw him. He asked us to pray with him, but instead I invited him to receive a Priesthood blessing. WHERE IN THE WORLD DID THAT COME FROM???? Well, it had to have been the Spirit because that thought had never crossed my mind... So right then and there, I ask Elder Riggs if he would mind giving a blessing. And like the incredibly awesome missionary that he is, he readily agreed. We briefly explained what a priesthood blessing is, etc. and then Elder Riggs and his greenie Elder Ellsworth proceeded to give Antonio a priesthood blessing in the back of a dark alley at 9:15 at night. hahaha Sometimes the Spirit is SO unpredictable, but I LOVE seeing all the good that can come from following His promptings! Seriously, the Gift of the Holy Ghost is the most precious gift I have as a missionary, and as a member of God's true church. His constant companionship is the best feeling in the world!

Well, aside from that, Lucia was confirmed which was super exciting! Alonso was ordained a teacher and passed the Sacrament for the first time! Silvia said after Sacrament mtg. that she is going to be baptized "muy pronto" so we're hoping to see her today and set a date! Mauricio said he's finally ready to DO something and is going to start meeting with us again tonight! Jessica is starting to recognize that she IS a beautiful daughter of God and that her divine nature and individual worth are things that NO one can take away from her! Oh, and miracle of all miracles, Vladimir now CORRECTLY understands the First Vision (he had been misunderstanding us before that God was pointing to Joseph instead of Jesus Christ and telling us to listen to Joseph Smith... Wow... GOOD THING we figured out his hang up and got that all cleared up!!! haha), accepts Joseph Smith as a servant of God, and that the Book of Mormon is another true testament of Jesus Christ! We're hoping that he will accept a baptismal invitation this week! :) So, the work is moving right along. Hna. Erickson is delightful and she wants to work just as hard as I do, which is a HUGE blessing! We are lighting this area on fire and hopefully the ward will have a few sparks started, too. ;)

Well, thanks again for your continued love and support! There are only 3 more weeks for Liz to take a pregnant picture and send it to me! Will someone PLEASE jump on that for me??? Well, I love you all!! Have a great week! GOD is in control, and everything He does is for OUR good, and OUR eternal life. Just remember that!

Hermana Blackburn

Reflections of Christ