Saturday, February 19, 2011

My Diverse Travels

My latest travels have taken me to the great state of New Jersey. So far, I have served all over the state of Pennsylvania: West Philadelphia, Hazleton, Bethlehem, Honesdale, and Reading. So, this trip across the Delaware River is new to me. I haven't found anything bad about it so far, and I'm not expecting to. There are a couple things that are different, such as not being able to pump your own gas. But, different is good.

I love diversity. Even within the state of Pennsylvania, there are so many different kinds of people. I traveled all over the eastern side of Pennsylvania, and I met hundreds of people. I'm not just talking about different races, ethnicites, cultures, countries, etc, although that does add to the diversity. I'm talking about each individual person. Obviously, cultures, races, countries, and ethnicities play a mighty big factor. But, each person is different.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My Life of Crime

   Pardon me if this doesn't seem like something worthy of "things of my soul." But, bear with me. A few weeks ago, Elder Nielson and I were knocking on doors in Sinking Spring (a city just outside of Reading). It was a bit chilly, and it was getting dark, but we were staying warm, and everything was going just fine. Then, as we were talking to a lady and her husband at their door, a police car drove up to the house, and a police officer stepped out of the car. He started walking up to the door with his flashlight in his hand...

                                       Image from 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

My Family

   As a missionary, I don’t get to see my family for two whole years. I can talk to them twice a year, on Christmas and Mother's Day, and I get to email them once a week. That's it. It’s hard to believe. Now, although I was always fairly close to my family, being away from them for 18 months has shown me how much I love, care for, and depend on them.

   My family can be described in so many different ways: love, humor, debate, struggles, etc. But, perhaps above it all, we are a family that is together. There are so many quirky stories that come to my mind as I remember my family.

   For instance, my older sister, Bonnie, and I are only three years apart. When we were young, we would come home from elementary school and argue about whether we were going to have Macaroni & Cheese, or Tuna & Noodles. Later in life, when we were in high school, we grew so close as we spent hours together. She was also the one I went to for advice, whether it was school, dating, or anything else.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

"Things of my Soul?"

   For the past several months, this blog has existed under my name, Elder Barnett. But, I have failed to post a single post. Fortunately, my companion, Elder Blackburn, has been very diligent in posting frequently. However, as of a week and a half ago, Elder Blackburn flew home to Utah, after finishing his two year mission. So, here I am, without Elder Blackburn to cover for me, and a desire to share something new, something fresh. 
    I've done a lot of pondering on the title, "Things of my Soul." First of all, the phrase comes from a passage in The Book of Mormon. Here, a prophet named Nephi writes that his father, Lehi, has just died. I do not know what Nephi was feeling at that point in time. Having never had an immediate family member pass away, I can only imagine how he felt. I would imagine that he was thinking about what was going to happen in the future. He was probably a bit lost without the anchor that his father was to. He may have been thinking about life after death, his own faith, and the things that his father taught him. I think, most of all, he was pondering on what was most precious to him, because he then writes this key phrase: "Upon these [records] I write the things of my soul."

     So, with that introduction, this blog will contain thoughts about what is most precious to me. It will show what makes up my identity, and my soul. There are many things that make up my character, from experiences to people, from the scriptures to personal answers to prayer. These things are what bring me joy, happiness, and peace in life. I love to share that with others. And, that's just what I want to do with this blog.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

'Twas The Night Before Transfers

'Twas the night before transfers, when all through the zone
Not an elder was stirring, not even by phone;
The white shirts were hung in the closets with care,
In hopes that each elder would get to stay there;
The planners were nestled all snug in their vests,
While visions of baptisms danced in their heads;
Elder Barnett in his trench coat, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's tract,

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Pie Heaven?

My sister and I had a favorite joke about pie, that was more of an inside joke than anything else.  A comedian named Jack Handey once said: “When you die, if you get a choice between going to regular heaven or pie heaven, choose pie heaven. It might be a trick, but if it's not, mmmmmmmm, boy.”  My sister could never remember the joke.  All she could ever remember was that it had something to do with pie heaven, and that it was funny.  So pie has become a symbol of humor in my family, simply becuase of her forgetting a bad joke.

The other day, my companion and I had a experience that I think is hilarious.  It relates to pie.  Elder Barnett wanted to buy a pumpkin pie for thanksgiving.  I suggested we wait until after thanksgiving because someone may give us a pumpkin pie, and we could never eat TWO pies.  He agreed.  Unfortunately, we didn't get a pumpkin pie.  Instead, we were given two apple pies and a cherry pie.  Determined to get a pumpkin pie,  Elder Barnett grabbed one, as soon as we entered the grocery store the following Monday.  It wasn't until we got home that he realized that he had grabbed a sweet potato pie, instead of a pumpkin pie.  Defeated, he gave up on pie and simply ate pumpkin bread instead.  He still topped it with whipped cream though.

Now we have a whole lot of pie, which brings me back to the point I made before: Mmmmmmmm, boy. Pie heaven!

(P.S.  As a missionary, I don't feel comfortable posting this without adding the disclaimer that there is no scriptural evidence that there is such a thing as pie heaven, only in a symbolic sense in our fridge :)

-Elder Blackburn

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

How The Book of Mormon Has Blessed My Life.

"The Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible.  It is a record of God's dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contains, as does the Bible, the fullness of the everlasting gospel."-the introduction to the Book of Mormon
 Ah!  The Book of Mormon is the best book ever!   And that is saying a lot because I love to read.  In my reading of the Book of Mormon, I try to learn as much as I can about how to be better.  I have found that we need to approach the scriptures with questions in mind.  Although it can be interesting, I kind of shy away from thinking about the "un-known" principles like "the body temperature of translated beings."  Instead, I am always trying to be an expert on people:  What influences them to be prideful?  What motivates them to sacrifice?  What causes them to forget their blessings?  And then, I try to apply what I learn to myself, and help those that I love. 

With these questions in mind, I have found that the best way to learn about people is to learn about God.  What is His purpose?  What influences His decisions to give or withhold blessings?  Why does He expect this or that?  How does He make decisions?  That is where the Book of Mormon is invaluable.  I can read the first hand accounts of the people in ancient America and their experiences with God and His gospel.   I can learn from their successes and from their failures.  Over and over again, I determine that the more we trust and follow God, the more our own natures will become similar to His.  We can adopt His way of thinking as our own.

-Elder Blackburn