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

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The City of Reading

Taken July 4th, 2010
Every city has a landmark, whether it is a building, a striking environmental feature, a spot of historical or emotional significance, or almost any other reason....  Well, I would like to introduce you to another landmark, that is famous to Reading, Pennsylvania:  the Pagoda!   Reading, Pennsylvania is a very old city, and most commonly known for its famous railroad everyone gets to ride in the game Monopoly.  The cool thing about the Pagoda, is that it is a Japanese style structure on the hillside of a historic American city.  It is also lit up at night for the world to see.

Well, some of you may be asking, So what?  What is the significance of a large, striking building set up on a hill that is all lit up at night?  Well, that is one thing that I love about the Temple.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

For the Lovers of Lists...

Thanksgiving is getting closer, and I thought that it would be appropriate to share an example of how gratitude has effected me in my life.  My sister's name is Brenda, and when she got home from her mission in Toronto, Canada she started a notebook called "things I love."  It started with just 23 things, for her age, but then it grew and grew as she added the lists of friends, families, and even acquaintances.  It became obvious that the more you think about the things you love, and the things you are grateful for, the more you are reminded of the "little things" that really count.  It has become a tradition, for me and my sister, to include in every letter and email that we send to each other, 3 things we are grateful for, and anyone who wants to, can add their 3 things too!
  • I am grateful for full moons
  • I am grateful for memories of playing in haystacks at Grandpa's farm
  • I am grateful for those days that we actually DO find that needle in the haystack. (which doesn't happen all that frequently.  Any of the other missionaries who knows me will agree that I loose stuff.  A lot.  I have probably lost a dozen umbrellas in the last two years, but that is another story completely...)
 I couldn't resist putting in this video made by the church too.  It's great, and is a classic example of being grateful for the little things!
-Elder Blackburn

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Scariest Halloween Story Ever!

We are teaching a man here in Reading, PA who told us the other day about what happened to him Halloween night, and I just have to share it with everyone else!

We had a lesson with him at 6:00 pm at the church, and afterward he requested that we drop him off at his workplace instead of taking him home. He had figured that he would be able to catch a ride home with one of his friends. Unfortunately, when his employers saw him waiting around for his friend they required him to work the shift. He had tried hiding in the bathroom, but they had already punched his time card. He ended up working until 3 a.m.

After that unexpected shift, he had to find his own way home in the middle of the night. He ended up trecking home, a 10 mile trip down the highway. He had the choice whether to walk down through the city, or walk down the river, saving him a mile or two. He took the river trail, and the lights from the free way caused his shadow to constantly move back and forth. He always felt that someone would jump out at anytime to attack him. It took him and hour and a half to walk home, but he eventually got home safe. I can't imagine the anxiety of doing that in the middle of the night, especially on Halloween! I know he was praying for protection, and it is a miracle that he got home safe and sound.

-Elder Blackburn

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Chalk Drawings!

Here is Elder Darley.  If you can't tell, he loves to draw, and he decided to use his talent in missionary work! His mom is a pretty good artist too, so he had some good training.  He found a parking lot that wasn't being used... (at least that is what he said.  It looks pretty busy to me...)  and did a chalk drawing of the plan of salvation.