Elder Brigham Blake

Email: Brigham.Blake@myldsmail.net

Monday, September 29, 2014

Week 2 in the CCM

Eyyy familia y mis amigos! Merry Christmas! haha here in the CCM we call P-day and temple day (we go every Thursday morning, sorry I should have mentioned that last week) Christmas. We sing Christmas songs and it's hilarious. Anyway, this week has been AMAZING. Seriously eveything about it has been so great. Let me take you throuugh some of the highlights of Elder Blake's week!
First off, after the old elders left for the Santo Domingo East and West on Tuesday morning, Elder Oldroyd and I got called as APs to el presidente Freestone (Assistants to the President)! We are pumped and we didn't expect it at all, even though there were only sixteen elders and sisters here at the time to make the assignment. Seriously,  this place has been a ghost town for the last two days. Sixteen missionaries. It was awesome! But sadly its over, last night we got a huge shipment of new greenies. All going to Santo Domingo East or West. We're all pumped to no longer be the noobies! But basically as APs we conduct the nightly prayer in the chapel with all the missionaries. It really doesn't mean much but I'm pumped and it's gonna be dope. I love Pres y Hermana Freestone so much.
Sunday was probably the most spiritual day of my life. I went to bed literally exhausted from being spiritually drained. After sacrament meeting we had this dope lesson from President Freestone basically about teaching investigators from personal stories. He said teaching with a first hand experience really invites the spirit, I couldn't agree more! I try to do it in Spanish but I'm not quite there yet haha! Basically he asked us if we had any first hand experience of going to the sacred grove. At that moment my heart burned and I was just filled with the spirit. Out of nowhere half an hour before and during the sacrament I thought about my first time visiting the Sacred Grove and sitting on a park bench with mom. I remember I cried my eyes out because I knew that Joseph Smith had seen Dios y Jesucristo there in the grove. I felt a prompting during sacrament to later share that experience with my district but then President Freestone out of nowhere asked me basically to share that experience with everyone! Wow I can't even tell you what that did to me. I know it wasn't a coincidence. Later that afternoon we watched a dope David Bednar devotional, about how to know when it is the Spirit testifying to us, or just our own thoughts. It was the best talk I have ever heard in my life. He basically said to not worry about it because every good feeling, impression, thought is of the Spirit. There's no way to do it justice and I'm bummed because it was a CCM-only devotional. Only distributed to MTCs and strictly meant for missionaries. Dang I wish you all could have watched it! Walking out of the chapel and back to our classroom my companion described it as a "Heisman Trophy Winning worthy devotional" We had a good laugh about that. Also HUGE shoutout to Elder Ty Seipert for singing in the devotional Sunday night! I saw you buddy! You killed it!
Monday was another killer day. I think it was the first day my companion and I decided to teach without a written script. We prepared like it all depended on us and then prayed like it all depended on God. It was freaking awesome! We taught a 35 minute lesson with no notes whatsoever! The gift of tongues is real. Monday night was our last night with the old elders. And no doubt my favorite of them all were the Spanish speakers from Honduras. Oh my goodness they're all so humble. But my absolute favorite was this tiny little Elder Zaldanas. He was a spiritual savage and even though I couldn't understand 80% of what he said he seriously always put a smile on my face. Anyways Monday night during family prayer I saw him eying my watch a little bit. I could tell he came from a pretty poor family, his shoes were really tattered and maybe brought three ties with him. I felt the strongest prompting of my life to give me watch to him. Oh my goodness, I wish you could have seen his face. He lit up like a candle and started tearing up. I just gave him a big huge and told him I loved him. Later while I was lying on my bed he came in and kept thanking me and told me he couldn't believe I did that over and over again in Spanish. I still don't know exactly why I did it but I don't regret it at all. Because I have been given much I too must give.
Tuesday was weird! We woke up and ate breakfast but there was seriously only sixteen of us. La cocina was silent! Tuesday was special though because we got to walk to the store! We weren't allowed to bring our cameras but take my word for it, Santo Domingo is freaking nuts! The motorcycles seriously will just drive up on the sidewalk and go like 25 at red lights and during traffic jams. They aint scared! Everything is also soo dirty. It was seriously humbling; so humbling. But the crazy part is that we are in one of the richest parts of the city and it's still so dirty and run down. I'm amped to see what Santiago is like though! But holy cow I got a real taste of what the weather will be like for the next two years. Just a ten minute walk to the store and bank left me drenched in sweat. The humidity is absurd. Gotta get used to it though! What I do love, at least for right now is that we get huge lighting storms every few days. Last night I couldn't sleep because we had lighting strike after lightning strike over the CCM that set off car alarms. I think we had about ten or so strikes in an hour that just rocked the building. It was sweet.
Also, I had a crazyyyy trippy experience last Friday night. I fell asleep as normal at 10:30, but woke up in my classroom to the sound of the door shutting! I seriously had no idea where I was for like three minutes and thought I was still dreaming haha. When I realized I had slept walked down two flights of stairs I seriously laughed out loud and still half asleep walked back up to my dorm. It was about one thirty and it was SILENT oh my goodness. So I got to my room and realized I had shut the door behind me! I was locked out of my dorm at 1:30 in the morning in just my Gs! I pounded on my door for what seemed to be about thirty minutes. Two other Elders for different dorms came out pretty mad to see what was going on. When they realized I had slept walked outside they just laughed and told me to knock louder. So I did eventually get back into my room but only after practically breaking my hand on the door. Haha elders still give me crap about it. My roomies were so concerned then two nights after that they propped a chair against the door handle to keep me from escaping haha. Good times and a story I'll no doubt be telling for the rest of my life.
Other misc info. I absolutley love the meastros (teachers) they all Dominican and barely speak English but they're so fun. Most of them finished their missions less than a year ago and just want to teach to continue to have that "missionary feeling" I asked one of my teachers if he got bored of listening to young Elders struggle through there lessons as fake investigators and he said no. Even though our Spanish is bad, when we bear testimony he can feel the truth of the things we say and it builds his testimony stronger.

Sorry I had to send that, my hour time was up so I had to restart the browser.
One last story that is gonna pull your heartstrings and then im signing off. Yesterday we got this new missionary "Elder Bruno" from a tiny island about the size of Salt Lake City called "Granade" or something in the Caribean. Anyways he gets here and Elder Oldroyd and I tell him that he can use a computer to email home to his family. He told us that there was no one to write too. His parentes both died when he was five and he's the youngest of nine and not in concatct with any of his siblings. He moved to Granade to work on a nutmeg farm to pay for his mission. He has never used a shower before and Elder Tippits had to teach him last night how to turn it on. His story is truly remarkable. Keep Elder Bruno in your prayers though!
Alsoooo Huge shout out to Anna for passing your drivers test! I prayed every morning, night and meal that you would get it! Love you! Broah! I hope your feet are feeling okay. And Coop! Congrats on the tooth! And of course Linc,  love you bro! Love you all and miss you so much!
Love Elder Blake
Me and my favorite teacher Nunez
DR repping in the Classroom (everyone loves my flag)

Lunch erry day

Elder Reyes (Only speaks Spanish, biggest savage) and Elder Holbrook who's also going to Santiago

View of the Outside world from one of the very few windows that isn't tinted
Also can you give me Natalie Packard's email?

My beautiful view of Santo Domingo....             

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Pics from the MTC

First Week in the CCM


Oh man how I miss you all soo much and I have so much to say! I love the CCM but it's so hard to explain! First off, its really small. My day consists of waking up, walking down four flights of stairs to eat breakfast, then walking up two flights up stairs to learn Spanish/study until lunch. Then I walk downstairs again for lunch, back up all two flights of stairs for class until three, then walk up two more flights of stairs to change for gym. Then gym/dinner we'll go back up change, and study/teach until bed. Basically my life right now is repetition in every aspect. It can drag on at times but I feel the spirit so strongly that it doesn't bother me! But this country is, no joke, a freaking sauna, its sooooooooo gosh darn hot allll the time!!! Even just playing ultimate frisbee for 30 minutes has gotten me more sweaty than any football practice ever. But that makes the cold shower after gym much better.

Okay companion and district: I hit the jackpot with my companion Elder Oldroyd, the tall blonde guy behind me in my district picture. He's a spiritual savage, a scripture encyclopedia and just an awesome guy. He's our district leader so I guess than makes me his first counselor hah. But I love him. We work off each other's weaknesses and he has pushed me to be my very best. And for my district: I love them. Elders Fox, Thaler, and Oldroyd are the best. The other guys rock too, just get a little annoying haha. It's crazy, Elder Fox and I realized we had met each other shooting the tube this summer about three days in. I knew I recognized him, but I thought it was just because he looks like Jake Gyllenhall the actor. NO ONE here knows who he is and its so funny because they don't see it! He's awesome, two nights ago before quiet time we sang The Boxer by simon and garfunkel, it was dope.
Okay food. Breakfast usually consists of bananas, bread, brownies or banana bread. The brownies sound weird but they're good. We eat bananas with EVERY meal, I eat four a day. A saying us missionaries live by is "A banana a meal keeps your poop steal". Trust me. It's true. For lunch we have rice, beans, and some sort of meat every day. It was good at first but now it's starting to get old. And then dinner is a toss up; could be anything, we had ham sandwiches Monday for dinner that, no joke, tasted like spray paint. Go spray some spray paint outside, smell it, and then imagine biting into that. Gross. Thankfully I haven't had any other gross encounters with food haha. And I have enough food that I brought with me that could literally feed all children in africa haha. The food here in the CCM is fine, and I'm sure it'll only get worse in the field haha. Not that I'm complaining!
Okay the language. I've learned sooo much but it can be so frustrating. Whenever I get mad, I just think to what Presidante Freestone told us this week. "Don't compare yourself to other elders, just compare yourself to how you were day one." Teaching can be a struggle, but as long as I have the spirit it'll go well. I know how to pray, bear my testimony in Spanish and communicate a little, which is awesome. The temple is right next to the CCM so we get to go and bear our testimonies to those waiting outside the temple. Even though it's simple and choppy I have felt the spirit so strongly speaking Spanish. I can't even begin to tell all of you how surely I know that this gospel is true.
Life is so good and it's so good to hear from you all. Mail can get sent out of here and will get home in about three days but we can't really get stuff back. The veteran elders say their letters get home in three days but they never get any back. Classic DR. My first night some veteran elders said that this place is a prison and that the first week they wanted to go home. I do agree that this place feels like a spirit prison but I haven't been homesick at all. I love it here. I can't put into words how strongly I feel the spirit here. Yo se que la iglesia de jesucristo es verdedero, y que jesuchristo muerte onla curz por nuestros pecados. Yo se que el libro de mormon es verdedero y Presidente monson es un profeta. En el nombre de jesucristo Amen.

Mom please compile a list of addresses that I can send physical letters home to. I'd love that dearly. Also, I'd love to know how the Raiders are doing comann!! And I'd kill for physical pictures. I don't want to forget what people look like! And please clean up this letter its wicked messy (Julia here - done. You're welcome).

Love ya'll 
Elder Blake

BONUS (Came a few hours later):

Okay, So to add (I just got another thirty minutes) Most surprising thing? How dang hot it is here and how small the CCM is. Oh my goodness. There are only about fifty missionaries here and we have sacrament meeting in a room that is about 3/4 the size of the scout room back home. It has gotten old really quick. Especially because we haven't left the compounds of the CCM and Temple all week. I'm so excited to get out and make contacts with people at the university next Friday! I think my Spanish is good enough to have a simple conversation but hey we'll see next Friday! The older missionaries who have been here since the first week of August say the city is extremely humbling. We'll go on splits in a few weeks and I've heard some crazy stories. The craziest is one elder, Elder Smith went to an investigator's house and they gave the elders rice, which was crawling with cockroaches....nasty. And it was the family's only food for the day! Another elder said he went to a really poor part of the city and all the children were basically naked. Just didn't have clothes. And all the Elders said that the people live in cement huts with tin roofs. I'm excited to go out and see for myself. Anyways back to the CCM, there is one small staircase that is the only way to get up and down (from the cocina on the first floor, to my dorm on the fourth and everywhere in between) and in one day we walk up and down all four flights 30 times! I counted! It's absurd. It might sound like I'm complaining, but I'm not. I am seriously doing so well, I love serving the Lord and can't wait to invite souls to come unto Christ. I miss home, but I'm not homesick if that makes sense.
Okay more about the food. We get fresh fruit for lunch and the mango and pineapple are AMAZING. Imagine the best mango you've had in your life times 1,000. It's seriously to die for. Rumor has it that there are mango trees outside in Santiago that we'll be able to eat just as we tract. There isn't much of it at lunch so Elder Oldroyd and I race down to the cafeteria really quickly to get the mango. As we say here "Early bird to lunch gets the mango" The meat here is actually pretty nasty. It has this weird, arsonic after taste to it and about 70% of it is either fat or bone...gross. I basically live off rice, beans and bananas.
Life is great, I can't believe how fast this week has gone. They keep us so busy that it's really hard to be homesick. I hope you're all doing well but please let me know how the Raiders do!!!!!!!!! I was really looking for an update. Also, can I get the Packard's address, and could you try and find out Maddi's BYU address?
Thanks love you. Read your scriptures!
Love Elder Blake

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Leaving Boston

Brigham's last facebook post:

 "And now, O my son, ye are called of God to preach the word unto this people. And now, my son, go thy way, declare the word with truth and soberness, that thou mayest bring souls unto repentance, that the great plan of mercy may have claim upon them. And may God grant unto you even according to my words" Alma 42:31

This is it! Tomorrow I officially embark on my two year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I am so blessed and fortunate to have this opportunity to give others the gospel of Jesus Christ that I know to be true. Through my sacrifice, the people I teach and serve may find truth and happiness. I am so grateful for my friends and family who have supported and helped me to get to this point in my life. Here's my information, I'd love to hear from all of you:

Email Address:

Mtc address (where I'll be living for the next six weeks) for letters/packages:
Elder Brigham Blake
Avenida Bolivar # 825
Los Robles
Santo Domingo
Dominican Republic

Love you all. See you in two!