Monday, August 30, 2010

Starke, FL Letter #4 August 30, 2010

Hello out there to everyone reading this letter!
Hey, how are you? I am great, hope you are too! Well this week I conducted my first District meeting! President Barry was there, with his wife Sister Barry and their daughter (who just returned home from her mission in Nauvoo). So yeah pretty crazy first meeting. Sorta made the Elder in charge (yours truly) just a wee bit nervous. President Barry is a good president, he loves what he does and that makes for a great experience each time you’re around him.

First thing I did at the meeting was I had our district set a goal for this transfer period for number of baptisms and number of re-activations. Next, we talked about what we could do differently for this transfer than we had done in the past to reach our new goals (that we had just set). Then I asked them to follow me into the gym (we were at the ward building). I had before the meeting - set up a maze (of chairs). The maze represented our goal that we had just set together in the other room. At this point, I asked them each to put on a blindfold. I asked them to try to maneuver through the maze and arrive safely at the exit (on the other side of the room). I gave them all two strikes and on the third one, they were “out”.

As I had assumed, they all failed. So then, I reminded them by asking “What is it that we should do first? “ They all answered “Pray.” Therefore, I had them pray and ask God to help us with our goals. I then took my companion Elder Bass through the maze blindfolded as I guided him (by my voice). He made it successfully and easily to the end of the maze; he reached his goal. Following that then we went back in and finished District meeting. I thought it was a fun first district meeting. I tried hard to make it different, fun, but teach them something they could use as well. However now this week, I have the AP’s coming to my district meeting... so maybe I failed at my first district meeting. Ha-ha!

With our current investigators, we are continually working with them helping them to get closer to being baptized. We also helped a member here in Starke move to Ocala, (my old stomping grounds) Elder Bass and I went to help him unpack and then get settled in his new place. Since I was in Ocala, I was able to stop by my old apartment (pick up my mail) and see Elder Day!! Seeing him was a big highlight of my week. Elder Day’s new companion is Elder Fazon. We talked for a while and then unfortunately I had to go. On another note, I have special permission to head back down to Ocala this weekend for a wedding and a baptism. Guess who? Yep Michael and Kaitlin! I can’t wait to be able to be there with them for their big day!! I am pretty excited about that! I love those guys!

Another fun thing that Elder Bass and I did; was on Sunday we got to go to a priesthood meeting for our Stake area, which was being held in Lake City! I was able to see members from my old Lake City ward! I was even lucky enough to be able to visit with Brother MacRae again. He was our ward mission leader in our ward in Lake City, (he was the one who Elder Taft & I gave the little toy car to for Christmas) Super cool guy!! That was super fun, I loved it!!

I have printed all of my pictures off now, so I will be sending home 2 cd’s full of pictures this week for everyone. Some pretty funny stuff in those pictures! I really love this area. Lots of red neck boys and southern hospitality which I love. The members here feed us usually good ole southern food, and for our p-day, we really don't do anything too different because we are located in such a small town. There is nothing much to do overall, but I still really enjoy it. For Labor Day (p-day next week), some of the local ward members are wanting us to go to a Flea Market that they know of. They say that to "really" fit in over here we need to be sporting a huge belt buckle and they want us to get one at the Flea Market. You know the ones that look like they weigh 10lbs each? LOL We’ll see. Therefore, Elder Bass and I may do that next week.

I sure love hearing from everyone and appreciate all of the support I get while serving the Lord! Please be sure to thank everyone for keeping in touch and writing all the time. I wish I had time to answer everyone, but my days are packed from the minute my feet hit the floor until I fall into bed each night. Tell them I really love everything though and am grateful to hear how everyone is back home. I really gotta get going now.

Love to everyone!
Love from Elder (pondering the fact he may just be turning into an actual red neck?) Blair

Monday, August 23, 2010

Starke, FL Letter #3 August 23, 2010

Well hello family, friends and fans,
This week Elder Bass and I had a super fun and an amazing great time. Last week I was gone for three full days in Jacksonville at a Missionary Leadership meeting. It was good, we studied and learned a lot about how to ask more inspired questions and then to use those questions to guide the lessons we are teaching investigators. The leadership conference also had a huge section where we learned a lot about prayer and then how to teach the investigators about prayer; so that they better understand what it means. As an entire mission, at the end of spiritual lessons we are now going to start having kneeling prayers with the people we are teaching. Another thing we learned about is how to better use the Book of Mormon. One new approach is to introduce it by the first paragraph in the introduction and then move to the last two.

Boy, oh boy those 3 days we ate so much! During those three days, Sister Barry had us eat three times every day with two snacks and a huge lunch. The days were very long and packed with stuff from the minute we began to the minute we ended. The leadership meetings lasted from 8 in the morning until like 5 every night. Then we ate dinner and then we would go out and apply what we learned that day in the field. It really made it solidify when we would put into practice what we had been learning that same day.

We had a fantastic baptism this past Sunday evening- yep Bobby Coleman was baptized!! He is so super sweet! He was so ready for baptism; Bobby loves the church and the Book of Mormon. It was an amazing day! His girlfriend (who is a member) was so happy for him. She gave a wonderful talk about baptism, it was a super good, and really brought the spirit into the meeting. You should have seen Elder Bass! He was super, super excited. This was his first baptism and let me tell you he did so well. Man I was so proud of him. He didn't mess up on the words or anything everything went so smoothly, he acted as if he was an ol' pro at doing these! Moreover, Elder Bass got it done all in one dunk!!

Oh, man, it was such a super good weekend, we had a blast!!! Um nothing too super funny happened this last week - we both just had a good week! A bit of good news, I found my camera. I have tons pictures printed off on a CD so plan on me sending them to you shortly.
I loved Drew’s letter, he really knows how to make me laugh! Oh, man that last letter was super funny!!! I loved the fortuneteller thing, tell him my companion and me were laughing for a long, long while over that!! One great thing about living behind a members home (in their converted tool shed) is that if we are not home, then the delivery man will leave the package with the members and then they bring it to us when we get back home. I also got the ice cream gift card, but sadly, there is no Brusters in Starke but Elder Bass and I will be sure to use it when we get to a Brusters location. Rest assured I will use it eventually lol

Man it has been raining like crazy here lately!! Every couple of days, it is a huge downpour and I mean a downpour!! Try staying dry in that monsoon weather…ha-ha!! Well I gotta get going pretty quickly here, so I hope I answered everything; let me know if you need anything else from me. I try to remember to answer what I can. Elder Bass and I gotta get running now, so I will talk to you all again next week.

Well I love ya'll!!
Elder “jumping over puddles” Blair

Monday, August 16, 2010

Starke, FL Letter #2 August 16, 2010

Well family and friends,
Another week down in Starke, and I am loving it!! This week we have been challenging the members to give out copies of the Book of Mormon, So far we have challenged the entire Bishopric, the Young Men and Young Women and several Primary leaders.

Good news, we have a scheduled baptism for this Sunday with a super awesome guy! His name is Bobby Colman; he has been dating a member in the Williston Ward for a while and has been going to church there for a bit. Now he is living up here in Starke and wants to be baptized. Therefore, we are pretty happy about that!

This week have had tons and tons of fun! Elder Bass is a super funny kid, he reminds me of Golden Kimball, I love being companions with him! He is from Utah and has a southern accent so I tease him with that a lot.

I love the members here! They are all super stoked for missionary work and are happy to help in whatever way they can. We have already made some great friendships with the ward so far. We live behind some members home in their tool shed, Lol (yeah you read that right, it kinda looks like a trailer from a distance, but in reality they have converted their old tool shed into a home for the missionaries). We have had some good times with the family that lives here (and owns the tool shed).

At our little tool shed home, it even came complete with a great and awesome pet! Did you guess it was a Banana Spider! lol It is outside our house and we like good pet owners that we are… we catch bugs every now and then and throw them in its web! (Wouldn’t want our little pet to go hungry). Oh, in case you’re wondering…I still hate spiders, a lot!!! (however, if they leave me alone and are not in my house, I am fine with them. Living in Florida, you have to learn to accept spiders as part of the package deal). Ha-ha!! We have named out little (not so little) friend Spidey (very original name). I will be sure to get a picture for you. Fun stuff!!

Oh and this Sunday was the only Sunday that I have been super late to church during my entire mission. Why was I late, no we didn’t over sleep…because we lost our keys! Holy Cow we ripped our place apart looking for them. We were looking everywhere for them. At one point we even had the members that we live behind help us look. We had a dude come out and brake into our car (because we thought they were in there) but nope, not there either... finally, we found them inside the cracks of a couch... Holy Moley…super funny!! Moreover, we made it on time for our Primary Sharing Time! We talked about the Resurrection. That was fun to be with the Primary on Sunday!

So that has been my week in a nutshell!

Looks like I gotta get going soon, so my companion can get on the computer to write his family. Ummm maybe I have a few more minutes, looks like Elder Bass is still writing some letters. The area here is full of trees, tons and tons of trees!!! And amazing wildlife. You can see everything from snakes to bears, and the best part…there are lots of southern people that are just super fun!! They just make you smile because they are so open and friendly. Boy oh boy can they cook some great meals. Had a fresh fish fry the other day…yumm!!

Oh and on a side note, I think I have lost my camera but I have prayed so as I continue to look… it will turn up :) Don’t worry dear scrapbooking mom a lot of the pictures I had taken other Elders have as well so I can get copies for you. But I will just keep looking for my camera if I don't find it soon I will get a new one this week or next week.
Thanks for all of the cards and letters …makes a missionary feel happy to know the word got out about the new address change!! You guys are an amazing support team, thanks so much for always sending me “smiles” in the mail. I love it!!

Lol well I gotta get going now though, Elder Bass needs the computer. Guess his family is waiting to hear from him now too…hehehe!

Anyways love you all!! I will talk to everyone again next week!
Love Elder (friends with Spidey) Blair

Monday, August 9, 2010

Sweet Miracle! Starke, FL Letter #1 August 9, 2010

Elder Blair had an accident last week in which the Lord blessed him through the power of priesthood so that he was healed and could continue the work he has been called to do. The miracle is told through 2 different perspectives. Elder Trott who is the District Leader in Ocala where Elder Blair was serving at the time of the accident. Then following that Elder Blair.

We begin with Elder Trott's account, and then Elder Blair's version (in his weekly letter) from his perspective. Missionaries are indeed watched over and cared for each and every step of the way-by a loving Heavenly Father. What a blessing it is to have the priesthood; to be able to ask for and receive healing blessings when we need them most.

Here is Elder Trott letter:
"So last Tuesday I called Elder Blair on the phone to see where he was. So he answered and I said, "What are you doing?" He said, "I'm goin' really fast." So I asked him why and then immediately thought to myself he was probably racing on his bike down a hill. So I said, "Oh, cool. Well what are you guys up to?" and he didn't say anything. I asked again, "Blair! What are you doing?" and still nothing. I'm sitting on the phone saying "Hello! Earth to Blair! BLAIR! and still nothing. Then I hear his companion (vaguely) yelling, "Dude! Blair! Are you okay?"

By then I'm yelling into the phone. Still nobody was picking up the phone, but I could hear them talking. Finally his companion Elder Day picks up the phone and said, "Hello?" and so I said, "Day, what happened?" He said that Blair was going really fast and flipped over the front of his bike! So naturally I started laughing and asked them where they were so my companion and I could get to them. Well I guess when he flipped over the handlebars, he landed on his shoulder.

I swear he broke something and we all thought it was his collar bone because we could feel and see the bone sticking up through his shirt. He freaked out when we tried to touch it because he was in so much pain, and he couldn't move it. So we rushed him to the hospital. He was really pale and looked really bad, like he was in shock. We get him into the ER, checked him in, and sat him down in a wheelchair. Then we pushed him over to a corner and gave him a priesthood blessing.

Two hours later they finally got around to seeing him and ordered x-rays. The doctor came back and said that everything was fine! We were all shocked at first. We all said in unison, "What? That can't be!" We saw and felt where his bone was sticking up, but the doctor said the x-rays looked good and had him rotate his shoulder a little bit and he could do it. Then Elder Brandon remarked that we gave him the blessing, and Elder Blair looked up and said, "Oh, thanks! I'm good." Ha! Then we left.

How crazy is that? I mean what a miracle! Obviously the Lord has some special task for Elder Blair and didn't want the work to slow down (maybe just for him to slow down on his bike! Lol!). That was a sweet miracle I witnessed that I wanted to tell you all about. I'm blessed to possess the power of the priesthood and the ability of the Lord to heal the sick and afflicted through that priesthood." (End of letter)

Elder Blair's version:

Howdy everyone!
Well folks, I was moved out of Ocala and put in Starke Fl, which is probably the smallest town I have served in the entire time I have been in Florida. In addition to Starke, our area covers three other smaller towns (that are not actual ”towns” I would say more like “villages”.) I also cover Lake Butler, and Macclenny. I am not near Fernandina at all and nowhere near St. Augustine. I am closer to Lake City and Gainesville.

I found a pair of cowboy boots in the apartment, (which is actually a small trailer), so I put them on and now I fit in perfectly with the town folks here. Ha-ha!! The ward is super friendly, which is great. They love missionaries, so I am having a real blast already! We already have a couple people that are ready to be baptized, so we are looking forward to that!! I also have a car again, so I am trying to watch what I eat… which is going to be hard in a town like this! I tell you these people know how to make some good “down home-finger licking” good food! I am so happy to be back in a small town again, and if President Barry is going to be doing 6 to 9 months in one area before transferring missionaries this area could be my last area…which would be fine by me! I already love it here!

My new companion is Elder Bass who is a farm boy from Farmington, Utah; he seems like a cool kid. He is taller than I am and this is only his second transfer after being out in the mission field. But yeah I think I am going to be having some super fun times here in Starke, and before I forget my new address is 5820 NW 201 Way Starke FL 32091.

I have been getting used to being a DL these last few days. The main thing that has changed with being a DL is that that I have to check on the Elders in my District and see how they are doing. I talk to them about how they are doing and get their numbers for the week (lessons taught, appointments made etc.) and then on Sunday I call the Zone Leaders and give the information from my District to them. During the week, I conduct a District Meeting and try to inspire the other missionaries to be better for the upcoming week. Counting Elder Bass, and me I have a total of six of us in my district. There are no sisters in my district. I have Elders Brown, Robbs, then Elders Chadburn, and Angle who are in my district.

I do have a great story to share about my last week in Ocala. Here goes: Well it was my last full day in Ocala so I was still with Elder Day, and we were biking down this huge hill. At the time, I was going down with no hands (cause after 6 months on a bike you gain certain skills). I was about half way down, when I noticed I was getting a call from my District Leader, I answered my phone and started talking to him. Pretty soon, I was losing control of the bike, so I tapped on the brakes (to slow down) and I guess I tapped too hard. Next thing I know I flew over the handlebars and crash-landed pretty hard. I could feel my lip was cut and my shoulder was hurting pretty bad. I got up, told Elder Day to call the other missionaries because I didn't want to ride my bike home, mainly because I was pretty mad at this point. It was my “picture day” in Ocala, I was looking forward to taking pictures of everyone, and here I had gotten all jacked up.

The other missionaries came by and picked me up and as we were driving home, I felt my shoulder, which was hurting pretty bad at that point. I could feel a bone sticking straight up. I then asked Elder Brandon (who was taking me home) to feel it for me, just to confirm it really was my bone sticking out. Well he did and then he told me that we were not going back home; that we had to go the ER to get it checked out immediately and taken care of. As we were driving to the hospital, I began to fade in and out of conscious because I guess at that point; I was in going into shock. By the time, we got to the hospital I could barely stand up, so they set me in a wheel chair. I asked for a priesthood blessing at that point.

After that then came the long wait. The ER takes forever…and there were stupid people coming into the ER for treatment on something as simple as a toothache (which I thought was retarded). However, finally they took me back to get some x rays. After they were developed, they came back in the room and told me “It was just a sprained shoulder and a bruised collar bone”. I thought they gotten my x rays mixed up or something. I was starting to complain “that they got something wrong” and at the same time I reached up to feel where the bone was poking out, and it was gone. It was completely perfect; nothing was poking up against the skin. Then a missionary sitting across from me, said “Blair you’re fine, you had a blessing”. And that was that. They decided to put me in a sling for a couple of days, and then let me go home.

Now less than a week later it is a little stiff, but I am fine! So the basic comforting details are this: I’m alright and alive, and thankful we have the priesthood and can receive healing blessings. It was a super cool experience, and of course, everyone’s daily prayers back home for my safety I’m sure helped a lot too. Keep those prayers a coming-ha-ha!!

I am at a member’s house right now doing e-mails but hey, I gotta get running now. Elder Bass and I are going to do a service project for a part member family. So um, I guess that is it from me for this week. I will keep you updated on what happens here.

See ya'll later,
Love Elder Blair (fitting in perfectly and wearing his “cowboy boots” in Starke)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Ocala, FL Letter #24 August 2, 2010

Hello to everyone again,

Well, family and friends, here I am once again to tell you the Missionary chronicles “news of the week”. This is going to be the shortened version and hopefully in a fast time frame seeing as a lot has happened this week and I don’t have much time today.

Ok, so first off we started this week with a fun p-day then we just blazed through the rest of the week at top missionary tracting speed! Elder Day and I are trying to teach (and find) as many people as we possibly can. We also stopped off at several members’ homes this week along with everything else. With the members, we taught them about how the Book of Mormon is meant to be shared with others. Moreover, as members they are obligated to share it. We let them know that angels are preparing someone close to their family; someone that they already know- to accept a copy of the book of Mormon. It was a super fun time! The ward is getting more steadier with missionary work, they are slowly getting on board. Once this Ocala train starts moving there will be no stopping it!

Another change this week, (something different that happened) is that a couple of us in fact did get transfer calls on Saturday. I am being transferred and moving to the position of District Leader; which I am not too excited about, but we will see what happens. I'll do my best. I hope I like my area and being a DL. I guess I will spend more of my time now helping other missionaries. I really love just being a missionary, that is where the spirit is the strongest and you really feel as if you are making a difference. And ugh, I just don't want to leave Ocala right now. There is a sweet guy that is going to be baptized soon. He started crying in our lesson this last week and knows he needs to change his life and wants to follow Jesus Christ. The sad part is that he is leaving out of town for two weeks for work, but he promised us he would read the Book of Mormon everyday until he gets back. So I will miss working with him and seeing him step into the waters of baptism. There is a lot of work left here to do and a lot of amazing ward members.

So now for the rest of this week I am going to go around say my goodbyes, and take pictures of everyone that I love here in Ocala. As you can guess, 6 months is a long time to be in an area and I have gotten to become very close to the ward members here. I am kinda sad to go but I guess I am needed somewhere else. Also, Elder Brandon is leaving as well from our apartment of four Elders. So yeah, Elder Day is bummed, that I will be moving. I will miss that kid; he has been a great missionary to work with. He has a great love for the people and the work. Some other bit of news; Taft is going to be made a Zone Leader.

I have no idea where I will be transferred, but I will let everyone know where I will be serving next - on Monday. We will have transfer meeting later this week and move to our new locations at that time. So if anyone is thinking of sending their favorite missionary some “love in the mail”…just hold off for a week and then you can send it to my new location. Remember I said, “hold off” not “forget about sending it all together” ha-ha!

Mom, umm I will see what I can do to get some more Jacksonville missionary moms for you, in my new district. Glad to hear that you have Elder Day’s home contact information. Maybe his mom will join the group after talking to you! I loved the binder you sent; it had some good stories in it. I have used several of them teaching already! If you could, (now I am not saying go crazy), but if you could send me some Michael Wilcox talks on CD that would be cool. However, don't send me like 1000 different talks though. There is one called Faith to Walk on Water, I liked that one and then maybe one other of his talks.

Sorry I have to cut this short and leave but Tall Porter is down visiting and he has to go back soon. Therefore, I want to go and enjoy my last p-day with him in Ocala. I will talk to you more next week from my new area. I really got to get running now. I send all my love to you guys back at home, and will talk to you next week from a new “undisclosed” location.

Elder packing his bags Blair
PS Tell Abbie that her puppets were nice; I have really enjoyed using them as I teach the families with little kids.