Monday, May 23, 2011

Fernandina Beach, Final Letter #17 May 23, 2011

Wow is it all done??
It does not quite seem real, the time has gone by so fast. I look back on the two years I have served the Lord and my heart swells with emotion with all of the people I have come to love and respect. No matter what anyone says about the South they can slam it all they want, however I have had the privilege to serve these wonderful people and they have become part of my family. A piece of me will always dwell in the humid, marshy swamps of Florida where I grew as I served the people I love!!

The South is not without its oddities, but those very oddities is what makes it so unique and why I love it with all of my heart. I am very honored that God choose me to serve amongst this people, my fellow countrymen, to bring them into the fold of God!

Oh, how I truly love this work, my mission has meant everything to me. These people mean everything to me, from the hillbilly redneck, to the Brotha' in da hood, to the ritzy upper-class citizens... I love them all. Sure, we sometimes joke about the crazy people from the South, with those crazy preachers that try and hunt down missionaries, (even that too I will miss). And we get a chuckle from the way they talk... but one thing that can't be replaced, that is the wonderful good ol' southern hospitality! Where complete strangers welcome you in…and call you their own. I know for myself, that we as members of the church whether it be a Southern member or Northern member or even my homies (the western members) we are all one family united in purpose... that pure Christ like love unites us; we are all one, which amazes me and yet it should be that way; and will be that way in the goodness where does the time go?

Well this week I have come to realize I am an one amazing planter! Every time I leave an area, people that I taught are baptized! And tradition has not failed me yet; we just set a solid baptismal date with this way cool guy, who loves the Book of Mormon! After our first lesson with him, he was already contemplating the thought of baptism...(something that we didn't know). Therefore he was shocked that in our Sunday lesson we invited him to be baptized! He agreed and put in on his calendar for June 12!! Man I am soooo excited! I found the miracle I have been searching for this whole transfer!!! (finally) and I am sooo happy!! My goodness...
I am just in a state of awe and wonder at this moment; with everything that is going on around me... The mixture of emotions is intense but so wonderfully amazing!

But hold on…did I read that correctly in your letter? The Barbers are moving to Utah!!!??? Yeah baby!!! and Sister Gainey is sending me a tie? Sweet!! I loved the trunky monkey box this last week!! Seriously, those cookies and stuff was amazing!! Elder Parker also loved his purple box!!

There is nothing I need before I fly, I have everything all set. I got everything all packed away and I am bringing ya’ll a southern treat (I mean besides myself…ha!). I am pretty much ready to talk on Sunday; I think I have everything ready for the full 40 minutes... I am glad you got the boxes I sent home with my stuff last week, sweet!!!

I love ya’ll and I will see you in just two days!!
Love, (for the last time) from Elder Blair

Monday, May 16, 2011

Fernandina Beach, Letter #17 May 16, 2011

Well Family, friends and followers of the Swamp Fox…Elder Blair!

We again worked really hard this week! We were even having lessons with people while we just met them at their door! It was super fun! Unfortunately the main person we wanted to get baptized this past Sunday did not go through after all. He wants to get baptized but can't get Sunday’s off work. Therefore Elder Parker and I taught him for a bit and told him not to lose hope! Moreover, he said that he would never lose hope! He will keep trying to ask his boss and he hopes that he can at least get work off for at least for the first hour, to attend church! Therefore, he is defiantly in our prayers!!

Bit of interesting news of the south….Guess what we got a warning from the Alabama Mission President that some super, super Anti Mormon dude is lurking around the southern missions. Apparently he is trying to find recent LDS converts and tries to turn their hearts to becoming anti against the church. What a chump! As if Mister Ed Decker has nothing better to do than go around and be a bum. In my opinion he should spend his time doing a more fulfilling thing….like knitting! Yeah, I think that would be a better use of his time, or maybe actually reading the Book of Mormon! He had better watch out before Elder Blair (the Swamp Fox) pulls an Alma the younger on this mister Korahor! Ha ha But other than that bit of news…life here is going well and things are just peachy! We are going to be seeing some people this week and saying goodbyes as well, which will be really sad... However, change has to happen.

I had some great fan mail again this past week, please thank everyone for me. It's nice to see some love in the mail for old Elder Blair. And I loved the homemade pizza in a box idea! Also those are some man-sized marshmallows!!! Wow!! We will be roasting them this week!!

Oh, hey next week I am not going to be on long. I will just send my standard email and then head out to say goodbyes and pack. Don’t worry I will make the letter a good one; however I won't promise how long it will be though…ha-ha! It really doesn’t feel like I am leaving Florida this next week. I know I am, but it doesn’t feel real yet. I know that I will be back in Florida this fall, so maybe that is why it hasn’t sank in 100% yet. We also have some member meals planned this week, which is nice.

Also do I get to choose my sacrament songs or not? If I do …then well I want: I stand all Amazed for the sacrament song, but the others I don't mind too much what they are. Here are some of my favorites: I know that my Redeemer Lives, or We are all Enlisted, and I will go Where you Want me to Go. Any of those would be great.

Oh and do ya’ll have clippers at the house cause if you do then I won't pack mine. But on second thought maybe I should just bring them home with me…they might be too dangerous to leave in the hands of Elder Parker…hehehe. Today for P-day we are hanging out with a less active member family, but it should be fun! Hey, but I gotta get running Elder Parker is hungry! Ha-ha

Love yall!! See you soon…in fact… Yeah I will actually "See" you next week!!
Love Elder Blair, (Your favorite swamp fox who dwells in the South)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Fernandina Beach, Letter #16 May 9, 2011

Hey, hey, hey, yall it’s your favorite Swamp Fox reporting in for another week!

Life here in Fernandina is well. I hope all the mothers out there had a great Mother’s Day! I had to give a surprise talk on Sunday, it kind of felt like a farewell talk in a way. If you add up the months (total) that I have been serving in Fernandina it comes to 9 full months!! Wow, that is crazy! This seems to be my Florida home, I began here and I will end here.

Elder Parker and I are super excited for this next week. We are going to extend baptismal invites to as many people as we can find, and we our goal is not to take NO for an answer! Therefore we will do our very best to bring someone into the font to be baptized this week!
For starters tonight, we are seeing a part member family we have been working with. The husband says that he “would be baptized if only he had Sundays off”. So Elder Parker & I have been fasting and praying for him specifically. We have decided that tonight we are going to share with him the story of Nephi. And focus mainly on the part where he went to go get the plates and how Nephi knew that God would provide a way for him to accomplish his commandments. We are going to relate that directly to him and then extend the invitation for him to be baptized this Sunday! He has been to church enough times and knows it is true, now it is time to go and do! Therefore, I will let yall know how that goes!

Yes, Elder Parker and I have not stopped running from door to door! Things in this area are still going slow, but nevertheless we are going to give our Very Best To God. Time to lay it all on the line and go harder, and be bolder than ever before. I still have plenty of time for a miracle or two, so therefore I am going forward and I will expect to see some!
That was cool that you got to meet President Newman and Sister Newman yesterday! Wow... I love that man, and I miss him. President and Sister Newman are amazing! I really love President Barry too, he is a good man.

I was happy to hear that Sister Bass, Sister Lewis and Sister Johnson might be at my homecoming! That would be super sweet!!! It would be cool to see them and give them updates on their missionaries! They are all great missionaries for God! Strong and steadfast!
Today for p-day we are probably going to try a local joint for lunch and then play board games with a family that we helped reactivate, for the rest of the afternoon. Then head home, get some dinner and after that get ready to visit our part member family and challenge him to take the plunge.

Well it was sure nice talking to you yesterday! I hope you had the rest of a wonderful mother’s day! Can’t wait to see ya’ll in two and a half weeks!! I loved all the letters and care packages I received last week. It sure picks up my days to see letters addressed to the old Elder Blair. The new missionaries are starting to call me ancient…LOL yeah I may be old but hey, I still rake in the mail…so yeah that is the way I role here!! Ok love you guys back in Utah and I will talk to you next week!!! I gotta get running my time is about out.
The swamp fox, Elder Blair 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Fernandina Beach, Letter #15 May 2, 2011

Hello to yall back home!

Believe it or not missionary work, can be kind of confusing at times, the work is, but not the message. Here I am in Fernandina and I truly believe we are doing everything in our power to find and teach people. I mean we have now have been literally running to every door, trying to talk to as many people as we possibly can. Elder Parker and I are doing our best to find the souls who are searching for our message. Time will tell, and we’ll have to see. This is the way I look at it, if no one gets baptized this transfer; it won’t be a failure as long as I put it all on the line and give it everything I have. I want to feel severely used, worn out, and spent, by the time I go home. I want to feel like every drop has been completely squeezed out of me. So that’s what I am gonna do. I have committed to run from place to place, from door to door, making quick use of the time I have left.

Something will happen soon though, I can feel it. We have a super BIG goal for May and we are going to get it before I leave! Therefore, Elder Parker and I are going to work as if everything depends on us! Then in addition to that…Pray like it all depends on God. Last week we were able to get loads of “Potential Investigators” marked down in our books. However some of their appointments have already fallen through, but we still have several others that we will be meeting with this week. So hopefully our hard work will soon pay off! Actually, I know it will.

Our last P-day was super fun! If you remember, I mentioned that we were going to bike to an old fort here on the island. The fort was pretty neat and the bike trails were amazing!! While I was there my camera ran out of batteries (I know bad timing) so we will have to go back and see it again and take some more pictures! Ha ha! The rumor here is: People say that there is suppose to be ghosts who live in the fort…but "I aint afraid of no Ghost." And none showed up to say hello so, yeah no ghosts.

However while I was there I did get my first Tick-ever in my life! It was on my wrist. When I found it, I was calling every “good ol' southern member” to ask them how to get it off…cause nothing I tried worked. We tried the oil, the match etc. all the good techniques known to man for tick removal…and nothing worked…still the tick would not come out. I figure it had to be a southern tick, cause he just was not giving up without a huge battle!! So I called Sister Barry and she said “To pull it out with tweezers, to make sure to get close as you can to the head and pull it out slowly”, and that’s what I did finally after I tried all of that other stuff…that didn't work. So then I was advised to yank it out, and lo and behold I did!! And as they say …All is well that ends well.

I got my flight itinerary this last week. So I assume you at home have a copy as well. Looks like there will be 5 of us flying into SLC on the 25th; the others must leave from Atlanta to their individual destinations.

For Mothers Day calls…well I don't know yet. We have not set up a place to call. Actually, I have not even thought about it... um I will let you know soon when I will call ya. I will just make sure it will be late enough that you will be back from Cloward’s homecoming. I will make sure it is after 3pm my time.

Oh and just to let yall know I have been doing some studies and while studying I have found that “Awesome men of God” have been given cool nick names, like Brigham Young "Lion of the Lord" James and John "Sons of Thunder" Peter "The Rock" So…Elder Blair didn't want to be left out, so I gave myself the nick name The Swamp Fox! Yeah, cause I am serving in the swamp and I am clever and crafty and dare I say…as cute as a fox as well!! Oh yeah!! However, the ward says that I shouldn't be in charge of giving myself a nickname…so they are coming up with one for me. However… so let it be known for the time being I am The Swamp Fox!! Woot!!

Well folks and friends, I gotta get running again...Thank you all for remembering me in your prayers and "my mission this transfer" to find the one waiting for my message. Keep those prayers coming, and my feet will keep running!!

I love you guys! Talk to a few of you on Sunday =)
Elder Blair (aka The Swamp Fox)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Fernandina Beach, Letter #14 April 25, 2011

Well hello to all the people out there who are reading the weekly chronicles of Elder Blair, of Fernandina Florida!

First, we had a pretty neat week! Things here are still kinda slow; however, things are definitely beginning to look up. Elder Parker and I were able to snag a new investigator this last week, and even better than that, he seems very promising! He has been looking for a church “home” for a while now and, no church he has been to seems to match up with the church he reads about in the Bible…until he met us. It was kinda neat how we met him. We were actually looking for his mom (that is a super less active member) and when we went to her house we found out that, she does not live at that house anymore. Instead, it is just him there. The first time we met him, it did not seem to promising. He told us then that he did not want to be a member, however we could come by whenever we wanted and talk about the bible with him. Now this first meeting was actually way back when I was with Elder Johnson. So many months ago. At that time, we (Elder Johnson and I) really didn't feel like he was interested.

Now fast forward to this week: So then, this week we were struggling to find a new investigator and he came into my mind. And you know how I am sometimes…stubborn me… I was like "Really? Come on -that guy is not interested." Then the prompting came again. And still I was like… "You don't know what you’re saying this guy? No way...ok fine, we will give him a shot." We came by later that day and he immediately let us in. We had a super awesome lesson with him and he loved it! Unfortunately, he was out of town this weekend for Easter, but this coming weekend he should be coming to church! We are so stoaked!!

I had a really great Easter, thanks for all the cool stuff!! Unfortunately, the chocolate did melt a bit… but I put it in the fridge and it was perfect! And I loved the blow up “pillow tie” ha-ha!! I told bishop I would be using that next ward council! Ha!! Next thing you know the entire priesthood group will be asking for a pillow tie! Ha!

I will be sending some more stuff home this week, so watch for those things please. Also I did read about the doll Abbie got from the Easter Bunny, tell her those are still really popular here in Florida! I bet not many girls in Utah have a LaLa Loopsie Doll; she can be one of the first!! Let her know that I think that is neat, she got one!

But hey, I gotta get going. I am hungry and we still have to go do our laundry. And oh, we are going to bike up to an old fort here on the island today for the afternoon and do some exploring! Love you guys!! I will be talking to some of you “for real” in a couple weeks, Mother’s day phone calls are coming up! Well, I had better go, not to worry Elder Parker and I will keep moving forward and keep doing our best!

Love, Elder “still learning to listen” Blair

Monday, April 18, 2011

Fernandina Beach, Letter #13 April 18, 2011

Hello to everyone back in Utah!!

Elder Blair reporting in for yet another week in Fernandina!

This week was filled with some good and some bad at the same time. The good was because we had lots of fun and found joy in doing missionary work despite the outcome. The bad because we have not found any new investigators…yet. This past week we went out hard, trying to find new people to teach. We were going through our area book using a microscope dissecting it all. We tried going and seeing former investigators; and even some old potential investigators… and we came up with nothing at all. Not even a nibble.

However, we did have fun trying! My companion and I were running from door to door (yes we literally ran from door to door…it's called “speed tracting”...Ha! at least it’s called that by us). Then on the days we rode our bikes; we were biking super hard and move quickly. Therefore, there is no question that we were not working hard enough and not doing our part to find someone. However, we may not have been working as “smart” as we could have. Therefore, this week we are going to try again, and see what things we can accomplish combining hard work (as fast as possible) and adding in the addition of being smart about where and when. We will see what happens now!!

As far as our current investigators go, they are all at a standstill at this present time. One of them still needs to get married (the spouse "to be" has some trust issues that they have to work out). The other investigator is wanting and ready to be baptized (but wants some family to come up from Utah to be with them, so they are working out schedules). In addition, our other investigator wants to do some more research about Joseph Smith first before she makes a decision. So hopefully something good will happen soon with one or more of them!

But the Fernandina ward members are doing super well!! They are still trying to work with the less actives and get them coming back to church. In fact, this last week we had several less actives just show up, unexpectedly! These were ones that we have not seen before and some that were not even on the records!! So that was super sweet! We loved that little Sunday bonus! So that is our week in a nutshell.

Oh funny story: My companion tried cutting his hair on his own for the first time this morning and well... let’s just say that there was several big “patches” actually missing from the sides after he was done. So in order to let him go out in public once again...we had to shave both sides of his head to make it look somewhat decent. Yeah, don't worry I took pictures!! Ha, ha it was pretty funny this morning!

I hope everyone back home has a great Easter and be sure to eat something yummy for Easter Breakfast and think of me here with oatmeal and cold cereal!! Ha-ha!! Thanks for the letters everyone! A letter a day keeps the missionary blues away...Anyways I am off to grab some lunch now, love ya'll and have a great Easter! Abbie I hope the bunny finds your house!

Love Elder “Repair Barber” Blair

Monday, April 11, 2011

Fernandina Beach, Letter #12 April 11, 2011

Hey family, friends and fans!
Hey, ya'll!! Well looks like I will be finishing my mission here in Fernandina Beach, which I am super excited for!!! I know that I was sent back to Fernandina for a purpose, to find somebody special. Therefore Elder Parker and I have a goal to find “that someone” and either baptize them or bring them back to church before this transfer is over!! With that focus, we will be working hard, nonstop, until the very end, which is still awhile away, so that is a good thing! It gives me plenty of time to work!

As for our Investigator, he has still been coming to church! His wife accepted a Book of Mormon; which is a way good thing! However, we have received some sad news with that...he and his family will be moving to Ohio in two weeks. He has received a job offer up there, but he says that he will get in contact with the church and missionaries up there; and continue learning about our church! So that gives us a little ray of hope there.

In addition to that news, I got the awesome opportunity to go to Starke this past Friday for a baptism!!! John and Jacob were baptized!! I was so happy to see them finally baptized; man, we had every missionary that had ever taught them at the baptism! Elder Lewis, Elder Bass, Elder Tate, and I. It was way neat! Man oh man!

Then while they were getting changed out of the wet suits; Elder Bass and I were invited to teach the restoration (lesson 1) to take up some time while they were changing. And since there were some non-members, there it was a great opportunity! I was a little nervous at first; since I had not taught with Elder Bass for almost a year now, but it went super smooth! I just kept saying a prayer in my head to ask God to help us teach in unity and it worked! It was if we had never been apart. The spirit was so strong as Elder Bass and I testified together! Oh yeah the "Starke Boys’ saddle up for one last ride!" It was awesome! Afterwards, we had several people come up and thank us for the lesson; and bringing the spirit so well into the room! Awesome time!! It was a night to remember for sure!

Hey I gotta get going now, lots to get done today. Well I love ya’ll!! Thanks so much for the fan mail everyone and take care of each other!! I will talk to everyone next week.

Love Elder Blair (who rides again in Starke, if only for a night!!)