Saturday, November 9, 2013

Pictures of Blake's group arriving in Barcelona.

Blake had his first Baptisim!! What a way to start the mission off right.

So this past week has been a roller coaster here. We have been teaching this guy Juan Jesus the one I told you about. We met his father who is part of the head of this Evangelical Church. We were sitting in a park teaching him and his father came with him. As we are teaching him he starts giving this Evangelical prayer just screaming all this stuff in Spanish. He was trying to get rid of our demon spirits apparently. I had such a hard time not laughing at him but we just kept teaching his son who happens to be like 35. Well we had taught him all the main stuff with the exception of the smaller commandments and all week his Dad would make a big deal about it. Anyways I baptized him on Saturday. My first one! I didn´t think it would happen for a while. My companion looks at me while we were planning it and says its your first transfer and first baptism so you get to do it. I said the prayer correct but the first time he kind of fought me so his hand didn´t go under. So I had to do it a second time but at least it worked that time.

I almost forgot Halloween till one night we showed up at the church and got roped into helping set up for a Halloween party. I think it is the first Halloween I have not eaten candy. I kind of miss being at home during fall and going into winter. It is starting to get a little colder here but not much. They say it is suppose to get really cold in about 2 to 3 weeks. That is crazy that basketball is starting and fall sports are over. I feel like I just left and everything just started.

So we aren't allowed to play soccer in our mission because apparently missionaries got hurt all the time. Oh well guess I am here to work anyways. I still have a hard time with language but hopefully I catch on eventually. The other night we had a visit and I just forgot everything in my vocab and could not talk at all.

Love Elder Billingsley

He is learning and having fun. Sounds like he got really sick for the first time and experiencing good ups and downs. Everyone has those mission memories!

Hey Mom 

Everything here is good, it is all just one big blur. Everything is fast paced and I feel like I have been here for almost no time at all and I am coming up on two months already. Yeah we are wearing suits everyday so I think I am going to buy like a couple of sweaters today so I don´t have to wear a suit everyday.  I think I will get my suits dry cleaned this week.  We don´t really get fed a ton by the members because there are six missionaries in our ward but I have been fed like 3 or 4 times now. I have had some good food. Last night was freaking awesome. Church was moved back to 4:30 in the afternoon and then the four Elders in our ward were invited to go eat at a members house. However I had eaten something bad earlier in the day and all through church my stomach was killing me. We got on the metro system to get to their house and had to make several switches to other metros to get to where we were going. On one of the Metros, some people had bought some KFC and I could smell it and it made me so sick. Then the movement of the metro made me dizzy. I looked at my companion and said we got to go back to our piso I'm not feeling so good. As soon as the metro stopped I got out and ran to a garbage can. (This has been edited for viewers.  Blake was a little more graphic! EWWW)  I felt bad for my companion because he didn´t get to go eat at the members house. but I just felt so sick. I'm fine now and doing better but that wasn't fun. 
The Spanish is still coming very slowly I barley say anything in the lessons we have when we teach them. It is really hard to get lessons sometimes. We are teaching this Muslim guy though which is kind of crazy. If he progresses anymore Our Mission President has to interview him to make sure it is safe for us and for him to keep teaching. If he were to go back to a Muslim country he could be killed or his family could target us while we are here. 

Some of the things I am missing the most here are gum and candy bars. I don´t know really what I miss. There is a lot of stuff though. I will send pictures next week I forgot to bring my camera to the computer place. Oh yeah we have to pay to use computers. At least it is only like 1.5 euro

Love Elder Billingsley
Hey Dad everything here is good I think. The Spanish is just coming super slow. My companion is always saying poco a poco. We really don´t have a ton of success here. We only have like 3 investigators. One of them will be baptized eventually but trying to get people to listen is so hard. They are always busy and never want to talk. We try and make street contacts and get what has been called the Spanish finger where they just wave you off before you are even 10 feet from them. We do hang out with the YSA here in our ward a lot and try to get them involved in the work. As far as my Spanish goes I  think I just need to study more and harder. My companion is great for helping me out and so are the other Elders in my piso. Oh yeah so we just found out that we have someone in our piso from every year. The oldest was born in 92 then 93 then 94 then 95. Yep I am the baby.,but everyone we talk to thinks that I am older so that's a good thing I guess. 
My typical day in Barcelona. We will get up at 7:30 or if it was yesterday  you get up a at 6 30 because you forgot that it was daylight savings. I was so mad! Then we  do our studies and all that fun stuff. We leave and go make some contacts and then hopefully we have some appointments set up later or we try to visit with members and get referrals but not very often do we get any. We have noche de hogar every wed and English class every Thursday. It is the funniest thing every to listen to people try and speak English but I know that is what I sound like in Spanish. We do a mix of taking the metro and bus and walking depending on where we are going what we are doing and how much time we have. 

So my first Sunday was interesting. I had no clue what was being taught except for Gospel Principles which was tithes and fast offerings, and I still had no clue what was being said. I have to really focus hard if I want to understand some of what is going on, it is just difficult.

Love Elder Billingsley

Sunday, October 20, 2013

He dropped a quick line to let us know he is there. Sounds like fun but challenging.

Hey they told me to use a few minutes to tell you that I am in Barcelona for my first area in the 3rd ward. The building is freaking amazing. I can´t understand a dang thing, and my companion is from Argentina. He has one dialect then I was taught another dialect and a ton of people  speak Catalan or whatever which is a mixture of French, Spanish and like Italian or Romanian. It is messed up. I can´t believe any of this stuff.  My companions name is Elder Ferrer. He speaks some English but it is still super hard. Half the time I can´t say anything when we start talking to people. Anyways I'm here and doing good oh yeah and I don´t go to bed till 11 30 and wake up at 7 30 because Spain is a party place so they are all up late. Seriously though this is the hardest thing so far that I have ever done.
anyways  love you guys oh yeah and my area goes right up to the beach. 

I think you guys have the mission office address to send stuff to I will see if I can get my piso address on Monday. Oh yeah my piso is a load of crap.  when we cam in on Tuesday we stayed with temporary companions and did some work that night they had a super nice piso. My piso is crap and I live in the ghetto of Barcelona but my area is the rich neighborhood. When the president says think of this mission as part of South America with baptisms its because everyone and there mother moves here from South America. I have only contacted a few Spaniards. 

Love Elder Billingsley

He made it to Barcelona!!!

Well after a few days we finally received an e-mail from President and Sister Pace to let us know Blake made it to Barcelona and is ready to go to work.  So exciting to here these things for sure.

Dear families of our new missionaries,
     We are pleased to inform you that your son has safely arrived in the Spain Barcelona Mission.  Hermana Pace and I, along with the two assistants, met him at the train station.  The group of missionaries we received are wonderful young men and women, ready to go to work. Their enthusiasm reflects their love for the Savior and we are grateful for the privilege of guiding them along as they serve the Lord.
     Every area in the Spain Barcelona Mission is unique and beautiful, rich in history and tradition.  More importantly, each city is full of children of our Heavenly Father, waiting to hear the glad news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
     Thank you for the trust you have put in us to shepherd your son.  Please know that we feel a great responsibility to guide and protect “our” missionaries.  We love your sons and daughters as if they were our own.  With the Lord’s help, we intend to make their mission experience in Barcelona the most memorable time of their lives.
President and Hermana Pace

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Madrid MTC Missionaries ~ 22 Sept 2013 ~ "Army of Helaman"

Last letter from the MTC! October 14th, 2013

hey yeah it is crazy I am leaving at 6 in the morning. I found my umbrella hidden in one of the pockets. I looked for the whole six weeks I was here for it. drove me nuts. Yes I have like 50 pounds of books to pack but lucky I have tons of room. I am almost done packing to. its not to bad. but I did have to figure out where to start with it all. yes I have gotten some letters from girls.  I will definitely send all my new info when I get it. and I am pretty sure that my p day is Monday. I am starting to get pretty good at the lisp with all the speaking I just have a hard time all around with everything. the lisp is called a theta. They pronounce it with za ce ci zo zu. it is just like the vowels. it is some crazy stuff. I don´t know how I am going to communicate with people . I am screwed if my comp is a native. and not a single person can pronounce my name yet. In the park Saturday me and my comp talked with this lady we contacted who spoke some English for like over an hour she took a Book of Mormon and we got here contact info then we contacted a guy from Argentina who is a professor at one of the colleges for a while and he took a Book of Mormon but didn´t really want us to contact him. He was more interested in just asking us about what we believe than wanting to talk more. 
I miss you guys. I have that pre game feeling again
Love Elder Billingsley
I can´t believe I am already going out to the filed. It is insane how fast the last six weeks has been.  There where times where it felt really long but sometimes where it felt really short. And right now is one of those short moments. Wish I had a few more weeks to get the language a little better. I already know that the first few months are going to be the worst for me. You start wondering if you are ready to actually do the real thing after doing all these practice lessons and contacting people in the park which really isn´t that hard especially since most of them flip us off in some form. It happens so much you just start to laugh every time it happens.  In fact I don´t think I have been flipped the bird so many times in my life. Oh and apparently we might get I pads in the nest 6 months to a year.  There might even be the possibility of us keeping them when we are done the mtc pres said. We will see. I guess tonight we get a pizza party. dominos pizza. I just want some Americanized grease right now. Even if I have gained weight since getting here. Last night we had a talent show. All the districts had to do something. My district redid the hey there Delilah song to dear john lyrics it was freakin awesome. Ours was the funniest one.
love blake

October 10th, 2013 letter

wow Bria already looks a ton different. and it has only been just over a month.  1 out of 24 . I wish I could have been there to see her. I love it when people can´t control themselves.  I can´t believe that the hawks lost. I am disappointed but they still have a whole season. I got to go on another temple tour. I can honestly say that looking in the mirror across from the alter is kind of crazy it just goes and goes and goes.  I tried to do the temple in Spanish today but they didn´t have enough headsets. our sessions are in English.  so my card said Spanish on it so when I got to the veil I had to do it in Spanish. that was kind of crazy. I can honestly say my Spanish sucks.  I can understand what is going on when someone talks to me but my Spanish sucks I just can´t speak it. I only have a few days left here at the mtc. it has gone by so fast. I feel like I need another few weeks to really learn some stuff. my trainer is going to have to work hard because I feel like I know squat.
I think this general conference I got more out of it than I ever have. it is crazy how much more you get out of it when you are with the spirit 24/7. sorry for the typing these keyboards are messed up.  I thought there were a ton of good talks. I thought about Holland's talk on depression and wish that everyone where we live at least would here it.  that stuff is crazy.  I feel like every other talk was about missionary work. heck even elder Ballard gave us a shout out from the pulpit. it is kind of crazy to think that i shook his hand a few weeks ago and there were two other guys that spoke that where with him.  they talked so much about missionary work.  I can´t remember who said it but someone talked about everyone in the church needs to invite one person to attend activities before Christmas or something like that. that would be crazy if that happened. this is my last p day here so I figured I would get my hair cut and get already for the field.  I guess we might have to leave at like 6 in the morning here because of when trains leave to get to Barcelona. kind of crazy.
Dad you look good in glasses and that sweatshirt is bomb.  We get email time on Monday so I better get some more letters. I think they are giving us addresses to email you and stuff like that for our first area.  Can´t wait to get to the field even though I know absolutely no Spanish. 
love Blake
Holy crap it has gone by so fast. yes I have enjoyed the last month. it has been super hard and fun and all kinds of crazy emotions. ha ha you guys even forgot piano when I was home. Yes tell her to take the practice test, it is so important. I really wish I would have taken it. I will definitely tell you about everything during my mission and about my companions. As for my companions in the MTC. My first companion was Elder Ward. We got along really well. The companion I got when the new guys arrived is Elder Hally from Idaho Falls.  Oh yeah Elder Ward is from somewhere in Utah, but there are two guys I get along with really well here. Elder Schoen and Elder Poulsen.  Apparently we are such good friends that when we get back me and Elder Schoen have to help Poulsen propose to his girlfriend. lucky for him she is serving a mission in the Philippines so he has less time to get Dear Johned.  We give him so much crap about it.   I swear everyone else is from Utah though. There is this guy named Elder Roberts from Heber City Utah. He's a stud. I think I have met people from all over here. French Tahitian Russian German Portuguese Albanian and Italian.
How is Bria doing after her surgery? she is already getting huge.  

Thursday, October 3, 2013

He finally sent some pictures from the MTC!! Looks like he is having fun!


Hey guys! I am doing great I guess. it feels like just ne big blur. The Spanish is coming very very slow. I can understand a basic conversation but after that it all goes down the drain. I do have a hard time speaking Spanish and it drives me nuts because I will say something in English and I realize latter that I could have said it in Spanish. Its definitely flu season here. Last week everyone here at the MTC was sick and some had to sleep it off for a day or two. I ended up with a sore throat but that is about it. I am ready to head off to Barcelona but still wish I had a few more weeks here to study. Provo might have been prison but the Madrid MTC is not in the best area. Yesterday we played soccer with a bunch of Spanish gang bangers. they were getting a little ticked off because a bunch of foreign white guys that couldn´t speak Spanish were kicking there butts.
I am glad BG is doing good and that my ducks and hawks are killing it. Me and this one Elder named elder Shoen are having withdrawals for football. he is for the Texans we are both serving in Barcelona.
I will try and send some pictures today. I did get a letter from Br. Furqueron. alright my companion´s name is elder Hally. he is from Idaho falls. we just got 5 Italian elders this week some temple session was in Italian. they were all taking out their own endowments. and yes they kill at soccer. its just like the movie kicking and screaming. "pass the ball to the Italians".  I don´t know what day I will have p day yet, but I will soon. so crazy that I have been here for almost 6 weeks.
yay they got my letters. I can´t believe how much Bria can say. she has already changed a ton I bet. I am glad that my drawing looks ok. I cant even remember what it is. I can´t wait for Coles letter. glad you guys are reading. I just finished Alma. it is hard to do personal reading with everything else. sometimes it is hard to focus when you are in a classroom for 10 hours a day. and I thought high school was do I get to call you and old man now that you have glasses. bifocals! I hope I never need those things. although I would probably look just as good in them. mom must kiss you more because you look smarter or something. maybe I should get some after all it might help me get  all kinds of kisses when I get back. today I think we are going to a museum to look at religious paintings of the trinity and the catholic church.
tell Cole it is ok to play dirty because its the only way I can play. Im screwed between the French and Italians. the French and Italians both have guys that almost played pro but didn't want to play on Sundays. one thing I have learned is that missionaries from other countries tend to work harder. me and some of the elders think it is because they are not expected to serve missions as much as the us missionaries. sometimes we have some crazy deep conversations about the church. in the end we all say the same thing. they church is simple, its true, if you do what the lord says you will be blessed.
elder Bannett says hi mom. he is this big old farm boy from Utah that has the most strongest worst accent ever. funniest thing to listen to him speak Spanish.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Blake's Letter September 26th 2013. The spiritual growth is amazing in such a short time!

that sucks that the clouds have already started to come in. it is till sunny and beautiful here. I can't lie though I am missing the fall weather. yeah I think you forget that everyone still plays sports so I don't think much is going to happen to the house. haha kinda how it's always been huh.
yeah the MTC Pres take picks all the time.  hopefully I can send some of mine. I have a ton of them from the Madrid stadium that Cole would love. yeah my clothes are wearing good. I did have to sew up one of my shirt pocket because we were playing some stupid game before bed and it got ripped. the Danskos of so comfy I am actually wearing them right now and they don't hurt at all anymore. i love everything that I brought with me.
finally the tigers won something. and the Seahawks better go to the super bowl this year. it sounds like they are headed that way. everyone here misses sports the most. we are always talking about it. it seems to be the topic of choice. that and girls. we all have the worst missionary goggles. every girl we see we think is cute. till w e get a better look.
I am glad that Kenzie is doing good. sounds like she is shining out there and trying to make herself known for varsity. hopefully everyone else is good in sports. I know that it has been a year but my ankle still is messed up every time I run it kills me. and it is still swollen a little. oh well everyone here has some sports injury to show off.
yeah we are doing are fake investigator lessons all the time. and are learning slowly how to teach with the spirit. it is amazing how the simplest things bring in the strongest spirit. I can't lie it is probably the hardest thing to do especially when you are trying to do it in another language. I am having a pretty tuff time but it's worth it. in my scripture study this week I found the best scripture. I think it might be my new favorite. Galatians 2:20 it is he best scripture I think for a missionary. it is so crazy how much I have learned in such a short time as far as the gospel. the Spanish is coming just very slowly. but I think my testimony was strapped to a rocket or something because it just grow like crazy.
I haven't gotten a package yet but some of the guys said that there packages took like 10 days so I am hoping tomorrow or Monday. I will let you know if I got it. I think today we have a free p day with no field trips.  there is a dominos and I think we are all going to go for pizza. we all miss nasty greasy food. speaking of food guess how much I weigh right now. 194! the MTC food has not been kind to me. potatoes and more potatoes. guess I have to cut back. i need to go get my hair cut and then get some stamps. oh yeah I sent a letter to Cole so hopefully he gets it
I will try and send some pics tonight.
love Blake

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Pictures of Blake sent to us by MTC President Sitterud

Here is Blake doing mock investigator scenarios preparing to go to the park in Madrid.
        This one is showing Blake singing in the park with the other missionaries.                                     "YES SINGING"
If you look close he is the first Elder there on the end.

September 19, 2013 MTC

 hey Mom and Dad
so my tipical day is so freaking long. wake up at 6 30. then breakfeast. after breakfeast we have personal study, but on tuesdays we have a devotional. then grammer class. after that i teacch a progressing investigator lesson then gosple study. aftetr that more grammer and then luch which is the big meal here in spain. after lunch i teach another fake investigator and then more gospel study. after that i have mor language study. then i get to go play soccer for an hour then shower and eat dinner at 6 30. after dinner i teach again and then have lnguage study agin. one feakin long day. lights are suppose to be off ant 10 30 but it never is befor 11.
i got a new companion. they seithced things up with all the knew guys that showed up. wndsday is laudry day for me. thursday is  p day and temple day. thursday is park day. last saturday i had no success in the park. last saturday early in the morning i got to hear elder ballard speak.saturday early in the morning i got to shake his hand. i guess he was here to train people and then fly to rome to organize a new stake. i met my mission pres to because he was here for that.  we all took pictures with him and his wife. i don´t know but it might be on the blog.  elder ballard pretty much told us to have a desire to sever and be the best missionarys the church has had becouse things are going to get worse in the world. he also told us that we will probably be called to do things most missionarys don´t do till they are towrads the end of there mission because of the growing number of missionarys. he says that we are still at the beginging of it. apperently my mission will be at the max missionary number befor june next year. after are temple session today we got to tour the temple. the madrid temple is so beuatiful.
in the park we just make contacts and get refearals. this week i had lamb rivbs for lucnh. freaking bomb.there are definitly people here you just want to deck but you have to hold it in. we have everyone here from hick to rich.  earlier this week we but like 4 alarm clocks in this groups room for like half hour incraments. everyone in the room thought it was funny except one. i guess he told on us.  no one likes him now cause the whole group was in on it. 
don´t tell cole but the soccer is making me sore. sometimes we get to play with the neighborhhod kis. they are freaking boss.  its crazy that i am about halfway done at the mtc.
lvoe blake
Second letter of the day
thanks mom and dad. i rushed back to the mtc to get my second email session today.  \i will get some stamps eventually to wright cole and bria mack.  i might be able to buy some of the mtc presidency it sounds like.  we were able to go to the real madrid stadium and take a tour today.  it is so freaking awesome. i took tons of pictures but i don't think i can send them till the end of my stay here. don't worry i will.  i will send this pamplete in the letter with coles so he can see what i did. i saw the evolution of soccder cleats and balls and jersys. the stadium is so freaking big. we got to sit in the players box and in the locker room wich is crazy. thank you for sending the bag. i know it won't be cheap.  I love you mom and dad. we had to get on a metro train which is an underground train. all by ourselves to get back and write emails  there was an elder that started dry heaving so the teachers had to stay back with him. that was an adventure. lucky for me i can barly read spanish so i knew when to switch metros.  my spanish is still no bueno but it's coming along. i can say basic prayers and stuff. the lessons we teach are a big struggle still. they say that by the end we will be able to do alright but we won't be able to actually really speak for another 4 months. they say that we will then be able to say almost anything we want without even thinking. wish i could do that now.
love blake

2nd Letter September 12, 2013

 the food hear isn´t bad but the teachers say the food in the field is better. we only have like 40 to 50 missionarys here right now but i guess the last group they had was like 100 they said. and it´s not a very big place.the temple isn´t huge and yes the templle is freaking awesome inside.  i have been able to go 2 times now.  every saturday we go to the park to make contacts and i was able to place a book of mormon and get the guys refferal info.  lucky for me he knew how to speak english. soryy if my email sucks, these computers are messed up. doing laundry sucks here. it´s kinda weird being here. it´s still kinda unreal. today we did get to go out into the heart of madrid because it was p day.  there are so many shops.  the archutecture is crazy. there is a bunch of french missionarys here and they are freakin awesome. I can.t believe that i have been here for a week. i am so tired all the time. i wish there was just one day i could sleep in till like 9. it took me about 4 days to adjust to the time difference. everyone was falling asleep in class and in devotionals. i just had dinner so its really weird for me to think that its like 10 or 11 in the morning there. hope everyone is doing good. love and miss you all.  how is bria
elder billingsley
ps  they only give us like a half hour to write

1st P-Day Letter September 12, 2013: Looks like it will take some time for him to get used to the Spanish keyboard.

hey dad
sorry if my writing sucks but the computers here are messed up. i finally adjusted th the time difference after about 4 or 5 days. all those meeting s we had i fell asleep in every single one. the temple here is buetiful. i just got back form it this morning and i really needed it because i was draging the last 2 days.  if you guys ever make it over here you have to go. it´s awesome to wake up and go to bed seeing the temple. well the food here isn´t horribble but it is till mtc food. it´s all traditional spanish food but the teachers say we will eat much better food out in the field. <i can´t wait. 
that stinker stealing my bed. he had already started laying down in it before i left.  hoopefully he learns some spanish. that way i can write him back the very little espannol i know. i can say the most basic prayer in spanish and say short phrases. it´s a good thing my companion took 6 years of it groning up.  otherwise id be lost.  his name is elder ward or elder barrio as we like to call him.  he was a convert to the church at 13. and like most of the missionarys here he is form utah. ther are only4 of us that arent, we just got 10 eldcers and a sisster show up from provo. they just got their visaas
oh yea i forgot i have been eating tons of potatos.  are first saturday here we went to this park to do are thing. and i could not understand a single pearson.  lucky for me the companion the paired me up with for that could speak. we get anew compainoin every time we do that. however i was able to find a guy that spoke english. i was able to give him a book of mormon and get his contact info to refferal him to the elders in the area.  it was the biggest growing experianc ever.
there is so much to say but they only give us like a half hour at a time and i get another half hour tonight. although it will still be morning there. honestly though my smanish suck right now and we are doing those mock investigagors. oh boy they are freaking hard.  i miss and love everyone. im so glad that cole said he wants to go on a mission. so far it has been a trip. <i feel like we are in prson most of the time here, but the little of spain i have seen is buetiful. madrid is awsome.
the previous mtc president told us that we were here to suffer not to convert. he was a pretty good speaker. he goes, you gus arent that good at teaching. you are not here to teach the gosple you are here to learn about it. you guys better keep reaking it,s muy importante. and no i am still trying to fingish my reading up. that plane ride sucked. i miss and love all you. guys.
oh yeah laudry sucks with all thesed missiarys
elder billingsl├▒ey

He made it September 4th, 2013 Madrid Spain MTC

Hey mom and dad,
I don´t think I have slept at all since I left. pretty much all I can say about the flights was that the food sucked. The first flight was not to bad, but I had to sit in atlanta for like two hours by myself and then a couple of elders showed up from dallas and san diego. they are the only two out of all 22 of us that arent from utah. I have been up for ever it feels like and have som crazy jet lag.  they are telling us not to sleep at all till 10 30 or 11 tonight so i pretty much havent slept for two days. 
I don´t understand most of what everyone is saying and no one can pronounce my name. I think i have herd about 100 different ways to say it.  anyways I love you guys. oh and I get to go to the temple at 7 30 tomorrow morning. can´t wait

Family picture after being set apart as a full time missionary.

Last hugs and good-byes from the brother and sisters.