Monday, March 29, 2010

Ocala, FL Letter #6 March. 29, 2010

Hey family and fans!
This week was really something; Elder Porter, Rogers and I have been having loads of fun! But first things first, Transfers: Sadly Elder Rogers is leaving and I am staying. So what that means is Elder Porter and I will both get new companions.

Second thing: We did have a baptism this last week! Chris was baptized and confirmed on Sunday (since next Sunday is General Conference). But sadly, Jerrell could not make it to church to be baptized on Sunday so we will keep working with him. This last Sunday it was fast and testimony meeting (because next week of course is General Conference). So Chris was setting next to me during the meeting and kept asking all kinds of questions…like; “What are they doing? Why are they doing that? Who all can go up?” I answered each of his questions. Then the next question was "Can I go up there?" I said, “Sure, if the Holy Ghost is telling you to go up- then go ahead.” Then I told him how the proper way to bear testimony and what to say (basically) and how to close in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. Chris then turns to me with a grin and says he is going up next. (And to top it off we had a visiting 70 show up to the sacrament- Elder Anderson). So Chris tells Elder Porter he is going up too… and you should have seen my companion's face, it was so funny! Elder Rogers looked shocked and horrified all at the same time! It was classic!

So next thing we know Chris is walking up front. He gets up there, looks out at everybody, and was like "How ya'll doin?" Then he said he has learned a lot about the church, and thanked everyone for being so nice to him. Then he paused and said “amen” then he walked back down and took a seat. Lol It was so sweet! Straight from the heart! Chris came back and started talking to me about “Now since he did that- he was famous and everything!” Oh, it was too funny!

His baptism was scheduled for 5:30 pm and it was really good, (except the water was low again!) We had someone from the young men’s quorum baptize him, and Chris had to be baptized 4 times (because body parts kept coming up because the water was so low). Then after the third dunk they, decided to have them both get down on their knees to do the baptism. It was way sweet though. Chris will have a great baptism story to tell everyone, (maybe it will even make him famous all over again…) ha-ha!!

So that was the main parts of this week. It was a good week! I just hope I get another sweet companion now! We will not know who our companions will be until this coming Thursday. Also Elder See is not getting transferred either. He is staying in Chiefland for his last transfer. He is out after this next 6 weeks. Lol I think he leaves the mission May 12th (I believe), so about a week before my one-year mark. Our next Zone Conference will be in April.

The three of us are cutting our letters short this week because Elder Porter and I are off to make sure Elder Roger’s last p-day with us is one he will remember!! So I really gotta go- we want to make Rogers last p-day sweet, sweet!! Big plans!! So we will talk to you later.

Wishing everyone all the best! Hope ya’ll have a great Easter week!!
Elder Blair who is excited for General Conference-Florida style!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Ocala, FL Letter #5 March. 22, 2010

Hello family & friends,
Things have been great here in Florida this last week! St. Patrick’s Day was a blast! The Irish Soda Bread came in one piece and was totally awesome!! Then for St. Patty's day dinner we had some wonderful ward members cook us corn beef and cabbage! Woot!! It was really good, boy we really enjoyed that!!

Lately we have been teaching this part member; his name is Shaun. He is a pretty sweet guy and he really likes World of Warcraft. As we were teaching him about the Plan of Salvation, a scripture came to my mind. The scripture reminded me that I should “teach people to their understanding” (I think it is somewhere in 2 Nephi 31). Anyway when we were explaining to Shaun about the different degrees of glory I told him the telestial kingdom has a lvl cap (World of Warcraft talk) and you can only go to 50. The terrestrial lvl cap. is 70 and Celestial has no lvl cap. lol I thought I did pretty well with that analogy and he seemed to like it, and understood better what we were trying to teach him.

Also this week the Spanish Elders ran into a guy named Chris that said he wanted to know more about our church. However, since he was English speaking they didn't teach him a whole lot. They gave us his phone number and his address. That same night we were having a ward party, (at the party they were going to have a play about “A week in the life of a Mormon”), so we called Chris up and invited him to come. He did show up and he had a blast! The food there was amazing- everyone was suppose to bring food from a different country so there was Japanese food, Turkish food, there was a palm tree stew, and frog legs! It was all really good! Afterwards Chris said he had a blast, so we asked him if he would come to church the next day, and he agreed.

So at 9 o’clock Chris was there and even brought a friend. They were both sitting through Sacrament meeting, which was less then exciting. Oh my goodness; no offence to the speakers but for 19 year old kids -I don't think it was that great. I mean they were falling asleep (I was having trouble staying awake myself), but after the closing prayer I turned to them and asked, “So are you guys ready for class?” They looked at me like I was stupid and said "We just had class man!" I felt kinda bad for them- because we didn't mention that church was 3 hours oops... but I promised them that class would be fun. They were like "I hope so."

I took them to the Young Men’s class and I grabbed Harrison (a member that was going to be in the same class with them) I told him, “Promise me they will have fun” and he said he would make it fun!" They did have fun and really enjoyed the class, being with kids their own age was good. However then I told them there was one more class. They were amazed and started talking about how hungry they were, and that they wanted to go home. Somehow I managed to get them into the other class. I just decided to hang around outside of their class (cause there was no more room in the Bishops office, where the class was being taught). While I was sitting there thinking (about them) Rogers came by and was like; “Blair before they leave invite them to be baptized” (well that was already one of the things I was actually thinking about.) I told Elder Rogers that I had been thinking that same thing so we talked about it for a while. I told Rogers that I didn’t know if they would want to be baptized into a church that is 3 hours long, ha-ha! But we both thought “What the heck we will ask them and see.” So after they got out of their Sunday School class I asked Chris and Jarell to follow me into the gym for a minute. I asked them, “If they liked church?” They said that it was “really good”, (which kinda shocked me that they would say that).

I explained to them that the “feeling of goodness inside them right then” was the Holy Spirit testifying to them that this was God's church. I went on to ask them if they would both be baptized next Sunday. They thought about it for a second, and then I said “Trust me it’s not that hard “so they both said yes! I also explained to them that as missionaries we are their guides for them; to help prepare them to be baptized. I told them about the word of wisdom and law of chastity and they said they were good with all of that stuff. Then later that same night they came back to church for a youth fireside. Now we have two baptisms happening this Sunday, which is way sweet! I am pretty excited for all of that!!

So that’s what the main events were for this week. The library is totally packed today so I am making this quick. Talk to everyone next week.

Love from your favorite Elder,
Elder Blair

Monday, March 15, 2010

Ocala, FL Letter #4 March. 15, 2010

Hey family & fans,
We had another amazing week here in Ocala! We had zone conference this week and I was able to hang out with Elder See, again!! Which was way sweet, and I got to see my greenie there as well; Elder Taft! What an amazing zone conference though, totally uplifting and in tune with what the Lord wants of the Jacksonville missionaries! So far, for the mission we have had 164 baptisms (since the year started!) and 450 re-activations thus far -and we are only 3 months into the year! However, we need to kick up our baptisms if we want to make our goal by the end of the year! The zone conference was all about trying to get people to Christ and focusing everything on the atonement.

I am trying to perfect my teaching for the atonement. I got a sweet book from the Temple in Orlando when we went there a few weeks ago called, The Continuous Atonement by Brad Wilcox. It is such a great book, and I finished Elder Holland’s book, Broken Things to Mend. I have started the Infinite Atonement and I have another book in the car (that I read as we drive places), and I have a book on scriptures for my personal study, and I have a book for nighttime when we get back and don’t have a whole lot to do. So I am working hard on all of that.

Also, this week we are in the middle of a prank war with the Spanish missionaries of Ocala! Recently we took some Limburger cheese (that a member gave us) and put it in their vents but it didn't have the effect we wanted (didn't stink as bad as we thought it would). At first, we unscrewed all their light bulbs (so they thought the power was out). They then came to our house and tried to make the toilet shoot water at us, so then we went back over to their house and stole all of their light bulbs so that was pretty sweet. (Lol) Then they tried to take our light bulbs (no imagination, using our prank we did to them- but whatever.) This morning they stayed over at our house and I stole their apartment key and we went to Lowes and made a copy of it (lol) so now we always have a way to get in (evil grin, followed by a deep laugh) but yeah that’s pretty fun!!

I thank you guys for the letters and packages you have sent recently. Really, guys I sincerely want to thank everyone for all the stuff you guys are always sending me. It means a lot! I feel pretty cool when I get stuff like that- even if some of it is just “random stuff” or random letters! We as missionaries sometimes call it “fan” mail! But thanks for all that, it is so nice to have something to look forward to or even more so- unexpected “surprises” in our mailbox. Those things really keep our spirits soaring!

Oh and we had a baptism this weekend, his name is Jack Kelly. Jack was the guy I talked about last week that wants to go on a mission. He is so sweet; he is already trying to be a missionary, handing out stuff to all of his non-member friends and family! And since I have been keeping almost all of my baptisms programs; he saw me take one and asked, “If I was keeping it?” I said, “Yeah of course.” So then, he asked if I wanted his autograph on it. I said, “Sure!” So Jack autographed it for me, saying "Keep it rockin' all the way to heaven, Jack S. Kelly" lol so funny!! Jack is a really sweet guy! Hopefully we will have another baptism this weekend because our ward is really on board with baptizing fast! So we will definitely help out there! I am keeping my fingers crossed for more Miracles for March!!

Oh and a member in Fernandina does not feel loved cause Ronee got a package from Utah and he didn't! He wanted me to ask you if you only love one person in Fernandina. Ha-ha! He is a sweet guy. I still keep in contact with him, he is such a funny guy, you will have to meet him after my mission!

But I gotta get going actually, I know this wasn't long again this time, but I got pranks to do and the guys want me to get going. They are anxious to get some major P-day activities accomplished…hehehe!! Fun times!

Love to everyone and thanks again for all the wonderful things you send and for keeping us in your prayers! The missionaries in apartment #56 can “feel the love” from home every day!

Love, the Elder with the Key-
Elder Blair


Elder Blair with his new companion Elder Rogers outside the Orlando Temple

Elder Blair and Elder Roger's most recent baptism, Cathy and her sons.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Ocala, FL Letter #3 March. 8, 2010

Hey there everyone, it’s me again!
Well this week was all right. A missionary in 2nd ward (our apartment of 4) went home for medical reasons; so now, we are in a 3-man unit until the end of this next transfer. However, the cool thing is now- we cover two areas instead of just the one, which is pretty fun! Lot’s more opportunity for the 3 of us! Boom diggity!

Other good news: we have a guy that is getting baptized this Saturday and… (Drum roll) he wants to go on a mission!! He is 22 years old. He is way sweet and he is a big Marvel Comic Book fan, so that’s awesome too! I am way excited and pumped for him! He is way solid, and has been asking how to get a copy of the The Pearl of Great Price and Doctrine and Covenants for the past little while. So on the temple trip we took this last weekend, we invited him to come. He came just so he could see the Orlando Temple and walk around the outside grounds while we were in the session. Look at that…oh yeah Elder Rogers and Blair - still doing missionary work “outside” the Temple while they were “inside” the temple doing missionary service! Double duty and going strong! Anyway, while he was walking around the temple grounds he saw the little LDS book Shop they have there, and he bought himself a copy of the Doctrine and Covenants and a copy of the Pearl of Great Price! After Elder Rogers and I came out of the temple, we all walked around in the bookstore together. I picked up a book called Continuous Atonement; which is way sweet! I was debating on getting this set of LDS cards that say “Who is your Hero (it was different people in the bible and the events that they did), but it was a sweet blessing and very cool because this lady walked up and gave me 10 bucks, so I could buy that! Now wasn’t that a sweet blessing! And then when I was checking out what did my eyes see but Utah Truffles!! Lol I was so excited- I bought 2 orange and 1 mint!! Oh, yes; so amazingly good, I miss that stuff!

Oh, I also saw Elder See this week! It was way cool to see him again. There was a district leader council (and since both of our companions are district leaders) we got to see each other and hang out in Gainesville while our companions went to their leadership conference. So we toured around campus. The campus was pretty big so we kinda just drove around looking it over (it was kinda cold that day too), then we went back to the Institute building and played ping-pong!

And in other news, I can only write my immediate family at this present time because our mission is sacrificing stuff for “Miracle March! We are giving up such things as eating out, (which really stinks because there is a Five Guys & a Firehouse Subs here lol) and no writing anyone but your family, so that’s just some of the things we are sacrificing for the Miracles of March! It’s all good!

But yeah so, that is my week in a nutshell. Be sure to send my love to everyone! Anyway, I know I didn’t write too much again this week but I have to write from the Library so it is really random as to when I have to leave each week and how much time I get. They have these things set up so they don’t give us much time… and the fact that I am super hungry right now, so my stomach wins this week! I am off to eat lunch, talk to everyone next week.

The Elder with the growling stomach, Elder Blair

Monday, March 1, 2010

Ocala, FL Letter #2 March. 1, 2010

Well… here, we are again! Hello to everyone!

Is it just me or did that last week seem to fly by? Well this week was pretty sweet! Elder Rogers and I have been doing very well in this area! The new area is pretty nice, very green. My apartment is a typical missionary apartment, it did have a dishwasher but it broke (ha-ha) and we have a laundry mat right in the apartment complex- so that is handy. What is really cool is that in May (on the 22nd to be exact) Elder Russell M. Nelson is coming to our mission! Wow! And guess what? Elder Nelson had the choice to choose one mission in the entire world and he selected us! (Yes, sweet action, for the Jacksonville Mission) So that’s pretty sweet! We're all getting pumped for that!

We also had a super sweet miracle this week! We had an investigator that had a very abusive boyfriend. He was very controlling- to the point that he would not let her come to church or anything. And yet she wanted to be baptized. Then one day he had to go down to Miami on a court order. While there, he was put on probation, which meant that he could not leave Miami.
So Elder Rogers went on a member trade off to her house and committed her to be baptized this weekend (because she had already been to church twice). We planned the baptism for Friday. But every day leading up to it her baptism date; her boyfriend kept calling her and giving her all kinds of threats. He would tell her to come to Miami etc. So we told her to cut off all contact with him. And she has, she even went as far as to throw all of his clothes from the house into the garbage (lol) which was pretty sweet!

The day of her baptism, she was getting really nervous and was trying to back out of the whole thing. We talked to her and asked her, “Cathy who is the only person that would want to keep you from being baptized?” She said, “The Devil.” After that she went ahead and came to church for the baptism (even though some of her family was trying to talk her out of it as well) They were worried cause she was not feeling good that day. But she went through with it! One thing you should know is that she is also DEATHLY afraid of water. It just seemed like everything was going wrong that day, one thing after another.

We went at 4 pm to start the water running to fill up the font, and at 6:30pm, it was only past Elder Rogers ankles. Cathy still got in the font and got dunked (barley) and after that, she gave Elder Rogers a big hug! She had a huge smile, one of the biggest smiles I have ever seen! Her little son Donte (who was already baptized several weeks ago), stood up on the splash shield and said, “Way to go mom, you did it!! He was her personal cheering team! Then Cathy ran up the baptismal stairs saying, “I did it! Thank you Jesus, I did it!” Lol it was pretty funny.

Cathy is a pretty big black woman so it was just sweet, seeing her envelop her son in a massive hug! I tell you Cathy has such a sweet spirit about her. I just love to be around her and her son. Then Sunday came and she was confirmed! Everything is well with Cathy, the opposing forces were just pressing her hard, but she is filled with the spirit and is just so happy and thankful for the gospel. Right now, we are just going to try to move her out of her house super soon. We are also going to try to get her a new phone number so that her boyfriend can't find her and Donte once he gets off probation in Miami.

So now, Elder Rogers and I have to find more people that are ready so we can get them baptized for the miracles of March! I just know it is going to be a way sweet month! March indeed will be a lucky month full of miracles in the mission field!

Elder Rogers and I also had the chance to drive down to the Orlando Temple this last week. It is about an hour and a half away from where we live now. The day was rather rainy all day that day, but not too bad. It didn’t seem to matter much to any of us. It was a way sweet, sweet day! We went through an endowment session because Elder Rogers had a convert (that he baptized when he first came out into the mission field, way back from the start of his mission) taking out his endowments. He asked that Elder Rogers go through with him, so we had special permission to leave our Mission area and attend the temple with his convert. It was a very amazing day. Elder Rogers was all smiles, I don’t think he stopped smiling the entire! Anyway, it is a sweet experience to know that you taught them the gospel and then to know they are going through the temple. Maybe someday I will be able to go with Jason and Debbie when they get their endowments’. A super sweet miracle for sure!

On another note- I missed the entire Olympics, so if someone out there is wondering what to write their favorite Floridian Elder this week, perhaps you could update me on the scores, medals etc. I did hear the Canada hockey team beat the USA in overtime, but common it’s Canada! Those guys skate before they can walk! Other than that, I missed everything else.

I really think that is the main events of this week so yeah! But hey, I really gotta run now. I will talk to you next week! Hope you have a great week! Send my love to everyone!! Let everyone know to pray for the Miracles of March!! It is going to happen and it will be huge!

Love Elder (making his own luck) Blair