February 2011-August 2012

27 March 2012

March 27, 2012 Cesar Chavez' Day?!

Who the heck is Cesar Chavez? Can someone google that and get back to me? I want to know why the state of California made up a holiday for him and closed the library yesterday! haha Anyway, things in North Hollywood are... REALLY DIFFERENT. It's only 15 min away from my old area but wow. It feels like a completely different world. I don't have much time to write about our experiences, but I can tell you a bit about my new companion, Hermana Tara Prince. She's from St. George, Utah, and she's been out on for about 9 months. Her Spanish is really good, thank goodness. She is a rockstar missionary. She's really different from all the other companions I've had, but I'm learning a lot from her.
We did have one experience on Sunday where we had asked the Bishop if there was anyone in the ward he had been thinking about or wanted us to visit. He named a family that has been active-ish, but  much less so recently. They've only been members for a year and the husband still isn't a member. They actually live in the Elders area but when the Bishop asks, we can visit anyone in the ward. So after searching for their house in the POURING RAIN and having no luck, the hermana finally called us back and told us how to get to her house. We visited with her for awhile and then she opened up and had said that just a couple hours earlier she had prayed to know if she should stop going to church altogether for awhile. Turns out she's having some problems with a couple other hermanas gossiping really hurtful things about her and her family and it has just caused her to feel so uncomfortable at church that she doesn't want to go anymore. Luckily she saw our very timely visit as God's answer so she's determined to not quit on coming to church. We had a good heart to heart with her and truely gave her counsel as the Spirit directed. Such a neat experience.
So... GOD LOVES YOU. He DOES answer prayers. So pray harder. And don't gossip.
Love you all! Have a great week!
Hermana Blackburn
P.S. In my reading I am now in the Book of Joshua in the Old Testament and in the middle of Mosiah in the Book of Mormon... SO COOL. I LOVE THE SCRIPTURES!!!!!!!!! And I hope I never act like the Children of Israel... haha. ;)

19 March 2012

March 19, 2012 Me toca! It's my turn!

Well so much has happened in the last week that I don't even know where to begin. But I won't bore you with all the ridiculous details. I'll just tell you that it was one of the best weeks Hna. White and I had as far as the work goes here in Sylmar. We were able to start teaching Natalia--a referral from other elders. And she has a baptismal date now! We're stoked about that! Heavenly Father has blessed us a lot with finding new investigators. We have done ZERO finding. They have all come to us. Randomly showing up at members' homes or even at the church... I am really grateful that I get to leave Sylmar on an upswing!

Because I'm getting transferred!!!! Yep, that's right folks. After 6 transfers and 9 months--half of my entire mission!--in Sylmar, it is finally my turn to leave. Of course I'm REALLY going to miss everyone here, but they deserve to have someone else serve here for awhile. And our area is getting split as well, because we are getting too many new missionaries this transfer so President had to make room for them somewhere. Speaking of new missionaries, Hna. White is going to train again! She'll be great! :)

I'm not going very far. I'll still be in the same zone, and in the same stake, here in the San Fernando Valley. I'm going to be in the North Hollywood 4th ward though, covering a chunk of the ghetto of North Hollywood. It'll be a nice to change. And I'm exciting to work in one the very few Spanish wards that actually REALLY functions like it's supposed to. They are super supportive of the missionaries and the work of sharing the gospel, and I'm STOKED to experience that big blessing as a missionary. Because that has definitely NOT been my experience neither in Sylmar nor in Canyon Country.

My new companion will be Hna. Prince, from St. George. She's a sweetheart so I hope she'll be just as patient with me as Hna. White has been. I'm going to need a lot. She's been out for 5 transfers, so her Spanish is really good. Probably better than mine, let's be honest. So I'm a little bit terrified about all these changes, but I'm stoked for a change. If that makes any sense. Good thing I'm a pro at moving. This will be my 27th move in 6 years. So it's my 9th (out of 12) transfers, 4th area, and 6th companion in the mission. Time keeps moving doesn't it. Wow! This has been and still is such a wonderful time in my life--in spite of all the REALLY HARD THINGS about being a missionary. 

Ok anyway, that's all I have time for today, but hopefully you can all finally see the pictures of the Liahona I made. I know making you wait for a month has been almost too much to bear. ;) haha Anyway I love you all! Have a great week!

Hermana Blackburn

P.S. Here's my new address:
6835 Laurel Canyon Blvd #408
North Hollywood, CA 91605

13 March 2012

March 13, 2012 Sweet Hour of Prayer

There comes a time in every area when you have to drop everyone and start from scratch. Go back to the drawing board, the area book, and the members, and start finding again. That's where Sylmar's at. It can be a really fun and exciting time in an area, because the possibilities are all unknown, and therefore limitless! But this last week has been anything but really fun and exciting as far as the work goes... lots of cancelled appointments, unkept commitments, and unavailable members; more than 200 phone calls--and zero success; a blitz in our area where our whole district went knocking for us... nada. We didn't even have dinner appointments to help us get in ANYWHERE... haha. Even the Getty Museum was CLOSED when we tried to go there last week! hahaha But that's ok. I actually REALLY am grateful for the weeks like that, because they are what make the good weeks really GREAT!

But don't let that paragraph get you down, because even though the work here last week was REALLY slooooooowwww, we had some really fantastic experiences!
  • We met some new less actives who were so receptive to us... turns out they stopped coming because of health reasons and not testimony or social issues like most people. And health issues? I'm pretty sure we can convince them to come anyway... especially if we take Hna. Murillo with us to visit them. She has to be on oxygen all the time and had a stroke 3 weeks ago and STILL has not missed a Sunday at church. I'm grateful for the examples of the many people in my life who, just like Hna. Murillo, sacrifice comfort and pleasure to keep their sacred covenants with the Lord.
  • We watched the Restoration with Alicia and the girls, and the WHOLE family ended up joining us for the movie! Husband and all! We hadn't even met him yet, so that was super exciting! Even if he did run out of the room immediately after so we couldn't talk to him... at least he felt the Spirit for 20 min and now has an experience that can press on his mind for awhile. ;)
  • We had a beautiful stake fireside on Sunday night for the recent converts. I really wish more people had gone, considering we had so many people promise us they would attend. But I know that it was a great blessing in the lives of all those who DID attend, and I'm really proud of them for coming!
  • I finished the books of Exodus and Leviticus this week... What a cool experience it is to read and study SO much in such a short amount of time. I've received A LOT of personal revelation this week. The Spirit I've felt has been wonderful. The answers I've found and the questions I've thought of have helped me progress spiritually as my understanding of my Heavenly Father and His plan for me increases. I'm so very grateful for a living prophet, and for the personal witness from the Holy Ghost that Pres. Monson IS truly God's prophet on the earth today. How very much I love that man and the righteous life, FULL of service, that he has lived!
  • Yesterday we were privileged to have a special meeting with Elder L. Tom Perry of the Twelve Apostles, as well as President Richard J. Maynes of the Presidency of the Seventy. Their wives also joined us which is always a special treat! :) They greeted each of us personally. In the 5-10 second personal interaction I had with each of them, I felt of their love, their testimony, and the power and authority of their sacred callings. They taught us by and with the Spirit. I learned a lot, and certainly was edified and rejoiced upon the things I learned. They spoke about FINDING, the Spirit, and the pattern in which the Lord has restored his church in every dispensation. I'm so grateful for that experience and I will cherish it forever!
Well, those are just some of the special experiences we've had over the last week that are coming to mind. But in reality I think that the sweetest experiences of the whole week have been while on bended knee, pouring my heart out to God. I TREASURE my time talking with my Heavenly Father. He loves me SO MUCH. He knows me PERFECTLY. He is so wise, so loving, and so patient with me. He knows when to listen. He's REALLY good at it. And He knows when to chime in and give me some support, comfort, excitement, answers, etc. The better I pray... meaning the more sincerely I speak with my FATHER... the better I feel about everything. Prayer IS the key that unlocks the door to invite the Lord into our lives. I have always had a testimony of prayer, but too often I forgot how much I NEEEEEEEED prayer. Satan is really good at trying to make us forget that. Because that's how POWERFUL prayer is. So, what can YOU do to make your prayers more meaningful, more heartfelt, more sincere? Do you feel like you get answers on a regular basis? Because if not, you should probably do a prayer check. It's not that God isn't there or not listening. It's probably that YOU aren't really "there" when you pray and that YOU aren't really listening. Pray with your whole heart and mind and strength. Really BE THERE when you talk to our Heavenly Father. And then LISTEN. I promise you it will change your life for the better! Because mine has! I am so grateful for the miracle and blessing of prayer in my life, and I hope that this week each of you can come to feel the same!

I love you all, and I'm grateful for your continued love and support! Keep smiling and have a great week!

Hermana Blackburn

05 March 2012

March 5, 2012 March?!

Well we have A LOT going on today so I don't have much time to write, but I'll try to give just a quick rundown of the past week.

  • NEW INVESTIGATORS!!!! Jose; Alicia, Alondra, Melyn, and Alejandra. The last 3 are ages 12 and 8... All of them are referrals from Wladimir! He might have a long way to go in accepting certain doctrinal truths, but he is one of the best member missionaries I know! He literally talks to EVERYONE about the gospel. Just a couple days ago we got another referral from him for a guy he met while eating at McDonald's. Oh my happy, grateful heart! I hope you ALL look for, pray for, and TAKE the opportunities to talk to people about the gospel! :) Mom, I'm really proud of you for always being such a great example of this to me, even if it was embarrassing as a kid. haha
  • San Fernando ward... making improvements. It's been some long hard months here trying to put the ward back together, and I'm so grateful that I've been able to be here long enough to see improvements! I'm SO grateful for having grown up understanding how the church is supposed to and CAN be when there are such things are friendship, unity, and charity among the members of a ward. And I have a feeling that I've been serving in terribly dysfunctional wards my whole mission for a reason... but I'm not even going to try and guess what that reason might be right now. I just FEEL like I'm being prepared for something terrifying later on down the road... haha.
  • A follow-up on last P-day: the quiches, key lime pie, and baklava we made were all D-LISH! Good thing I'm learning how to cook so many new and fun things... we have ZERO meals this week. Hopefully we'll be able to beg a few, but at least I have some new found favorite recipes! :) We also took a pit-stop at the old Catholic San Fernando mission--did you know Bob hope is buried in their cemetery? Who knew?! Well, actually I guess thousands of people know because they visit his grave every year... haha. We didn't pay to go in b/c it was raining last week, but we're hoping to have time to go back in a couple weeks.
  • Today we're going to the Getty Museum! I'm SOOOOO excited!! Art and archaeology... can't get much better than that! ;) 
  • Next Monday we're having a special mission meeting with Elder L. Tom Perry and Richard J. Maynes of the Seventy... so if I don't email on Monday that's why. But we're all super excited to meet together as a mission--first time ever--and to hear from Elders Perry and Maynes. :)
  • Oh, I almost forgot: I gave the training in District Meeting on Friday. I did it on Charity... I have lots of deep and profound thoughts on the subject... maybe I'll have time to share some of them next week. :)
Sorry I don't have time to respond to all of your individual emails this week! Thanks so much for writing me though! I love hearing from all of you! And I'm glad you are doing well for those of you who DID write me! ;) Keep smiling and praying!

Hermana Blackburn

Reflections of Christ