Friday, March 28, 2014

Letter from 3/24/2014

Hey Dad,

I think I am going to miss doing all that yard work....Not! Actually I will miss it especially with summer right around the corner. Sounds like everyone is still super busy as usual and going to get even more busy. There is a four year old girl in my ward here in Santander and I was like holly cow when I terminar my mission Bria is going to be so big and a really big handful. 

Kenzie will do fine with everything she just needs to relax. She is smart enough to get into what ever school and with all these freaking guys from Utah they are always tell me to never go to Provo. But they are all Utah fans and have either gone there or are going there when they are done. But she is doing all kinds of things that will be good on her application. 

I actually just got a email from Garritt and he says that the semester ends here in two weeks and he is going home to work on his papers. I can´t believe that April is almost here. In a couple of weeks I will have had my mission call for a year and general conference is next week. and mothers day is next month and we get to skype! and my cousin gets to turn his papers in and get going on all that good stuff it is crazy. 

They are pushing everyone pretty heavy with the less actives everywhere. Reason number one is that it is great missionary opportunity to baptized part member families and friends of menos activos and 2 because the church has an archive of names that they don´t know if they exist any more so they are suppose to send a list of names to each ward every so often and the ward and the missionaries are suppose to work with it and try to find these people. Here in Santander we have found that most of these peoples address and numbers are wrong like these people just left and never told anyone. Most of them are people who have gone back to their country I think.

It is kinda crazy how much the work is being pushed. They are really pushing for the members to be more involved. Actually in our mission we have to memorize this quote from Thomas S. Monson.

" ahora is el momento de que los miembros y los misioneros se unan y trabajen juntos; que trabajen en la viña del señor para llevar almas a Él. Él ha preparado los medios para que compartamos el evangelio de muchas maneras, y el nos ayudara en nuestros esfuerzos si actuamos con fe para llevar acabo su obra." 

Sorry I don´t now it in English but at least I know what it means. It is a really big push here right now and we are hoping that the members start getting more evolved in there own wards because when they do that they can fill our planners for us and we can just teach their friends and the less actives that they know. Work will be more effective if that happens. 

So last night was The Barcelona and Madrid game. We were invited over to a members house for a "noche de hogar" and the game just happened to be on at about the same time so we got to see some of the game. It was such a good game 4 to 3 and Barcelona won. Messi had 3 goals. My companion and I actually got really into it. Never thought that would happen. 

Love Elder Blake Billingsley   
Letter to Mom
Hey mom,

Well everything is good here. Coming to the end of another transfer this week but I will probably be here for one more transfer. We had some awesome weather for a while but then the last bit of bad weather is coming in for about two more weeks they are saying.  Here in santantder it rains all the time usually kind of like Washington. My companion is great, we get along good and we have been doing a lot of work. His Spanish is reall good and I hope I am getting there. There is still so much that I don´t understand. I´m not gonna lie this last week within a day it went from sunny and beautiful to rainy windy and cold and I got a little trunkie kinda all I was doing was thinking about home and tired the whole time. Everyone says that you go through that crap every once in a while. Well, it pretty much sucked. 

We are teaching two different people right now that have some potential. One is a lady named Silvia and she is just really stubburn and does not want to be baptized. I also have a very hard time teaching here because she is confused so easily. Kinda drives me nuts.

The other guy we are teaching is name Fidel. We call him Fidel Castro but he is a stud. He is a member reference that we were given and lives in a pueblo about 40 min from Santander. So this last week we had our first lesson with him and we asked him if he would be baptized on the 19 of April. He said yes, if he found out all this stuff we said was true and if the Book of Mormon was true. So we are hoping he starts progressing. 

Yeah, I have been counting down for general conference since I started wearing the suits and sweaters fulltime. It can be raining outside and I am freaking sweating in those things. My suits are going to be completly ruined after next winter and smell horrible.  I am excited to listen to genreal conference and then the month after that on mothers day we get to skype! 

Sounds like grandpa and grandma had a good anniversary. I didn´t know that they had been married that long but I guess Uncle Chris is like 42 or 43 now right? Monday´s are my favorite day too. I get to write you guys and take a nap. I swear I have never been so tired in my life. When you go to sleep and then wake up you feel like all you did was just lay down and the alarm went off. All the days just kind of blur together. I guess that is the whole point of our agendas otherwise I would forget everything I am suppose to do. 

Love,  Elder Blake Billlingsley

Letter from 3/17/2014


Sounds like you guys had fun with Grandma Kay while she was there. And like you all had a good week. I hope you had a good birthday. 

Remember the white running shoes I had when I left? I ruined those playing soccer so now I only have the grey ones for running in and I love them. I don´t really run a whole lot so they don´t get used a ton. 

You guys are going to be busy with all those people in the house. Where is cola sleeping when Grandpa and Grandma are there. Because he is sleeping in my old bed isn´t he. Speaking of beds I hate my bead here in Santander. It gives me some of the weirdest knots in my back and sometimes I have a big old kink in my side when I wake up. 
Right now we have this investigators who drives me nuts to teach. She is the most easily confused person I have ever met in my life. But she is really awesome because she has this lady that lives with here from Cameroon which is in Africa. This lady has two little boys and is never in the house so the lady we are teaching has to take care of them all the time and she does it because they would just run around on the street without her. These kids are the worst kids I have ever met in my entire life so that could be another reason I can´t stand teaching her. It´s a good thing my companion is always like " calm down elder take a breath you can get through this lesson without being terrorized by these kids."

This last week we had our zone conference in Bilbao with three zones so it was cool to see people I haven´t seen in 6 months and 2 months since I was in Barcelona. It's really fun to talk with everyone and how they are doing. Especially since there are those of us who couldn´t speak a tiny bit of Spanish in the MTC. Elder Kearon of the seventy was there at our conference and it was awesome. 

well hope everyone has a good week love you.

Elder Blake Billingsley
Letter to Mom
Hey mom,

Sounds like you had a ton of fun there and like you got some sun. We have had some pretty good weather here the last week and a half. It has actually gotten really hot for me because we have to wear suits or sweaters till conference and you know how I sweat. It isn´t even that hot here either. 

I guess everyone is doing well with everything and staying busy. It makes my head spin thinking about how many different things they have all done in the last 6 months. 6 months ago I was in the MTC in Madrid and couldn´t put any words together in Spanish and now like today we were hanging out with two guys from our ward and just talking in Spanish about whatever. We were celebrating the birthday of my companion and this guy and Elder Magallanes. But with the Spanish it is a very weird thing for me because I feel like I can´t speak still but then sometimes I am impressed with myself because I can have a small conversation on the phone in Spanish and for the most part explain my thoughts and explain the gospel....I think.

Bria sounds like she is the biggest handful ever. 

This last week we had a zone conference with three zones in Bilbao. It was really cool because I got to see people form other zones that I haven't seen in 6 months form the MTC and since I was in Barcelona. They flew in the island zone to Bilbao. Elder Kearon of the first quorum of the seventy  was there and he is the first consoler in the Europe area presidency. It was a really good conference we just talked about how to be better missionaries for like a good 8 hours with him and then president and his wife talked for like 1 at the beginning. It was a long day but a really good day. 

Love you

Elder Blake Billingsley 

Letter from 3/10/2014

Hey Dad, 

I think mom is having a little to much fun. What kind of shopping is she talking about here? I bet kenzie did great in spotlight. Wish I could have seen it and I can´t believe that basketball season is over. Everything is going way fast. Sounds like everyone is killing it in whatever they are doing. And Bria wow she is a little stinker. 

Grandma E-mailed me and told me about the temple worker. Sounds like a fun calling and made me think about how much I miss the temple especially after going so much when I was in Madrid.

That is kind of interesting what Shaun said about a prayer being like an email. I know one thing that I have learned on my mission which has hit me pretty hard about prayer is that it is actually a commandment to pray to our Father in Heaven. I remember the first time I was explaining it to an investigator and in the middle of the lesson I was like holy cow it is actually a commandment to pray and that is the reason why it is a commitment that we try to have them make when we are teaching because not only is it the way we can receive our answers like is the Book of Mormon true, but it is also a commandment to pray. After that I was like wow I have a lot of praying to catch up on. We commit people to live the law of chastity and to live the word of wisdom it is exactly the same. 

Well my new companion and I have been trying to find new investigators to stay busy with and this week we found a part member family from Ecuador. They are actually natives and speak another language called quechua which is really weird. Anyways, we are hoping to baptize the rest of the family. Only the dad and one of the sons are baptized, no one else is, but they are really great. They don´t have any money really but they always give us something when we go over to there house it just amazes me how awesome they are. 

Sorry this letter is so short but not much new happening around here except we do have some new investigators. Actually I do have funny story. Well it is funny for the missionary's.

We were we explaining the Book of Mormon to this lady who was a reference from a member and we talked about how it was another testament of Jesus Christ and how he visited the Americas. She was like I didn't know that. Did he go by boat?  Me and my companion looked at each other and wanted to laugh because how she said it. It was really funny and all the missionaries laugh that we tell. Anyways we had to explain it to her and it was a good thing the member was there to help us explain it because she just did not understand when we explained it. I guess we don´t speak the language as well as we think we do. 

well hope everyone has a good week,

Love Elder Blake Billingsley

Letter from 3/3/2014


Well it sounds like everyone is busy and going in every other direction. To be honest my last companion that just went home was so trunkie at the end that I was dragging him around so it was pretty difficult.  I now have a companion that has a little more drive even though he is at the end of his mission too. I swear I am just killing elders off right and left. I get all the old comps. 

Sounds like Cole is always busy with sports as usual and loving it. I have no clue what futsal is. And Brenley too, they both are always doing something. 

From what kenzie has told me, she is doing really well in choir this year and is getting some really good grades. Wish I would have applied myself a little more and done better in school. She said you have to take here on a skiing trip for here good grades. She just needs to not stress out about the act and sat. She needs to tell herself that she is going to slay those tests. She is super smart. 

That´s right dad, that is Blaker's kindle. She cracks me up. I wish I was their to see her say these things. She is going to be so big when I get back. I miss her. Who knows I might end up coming home with a I pad or not. I don´t think we are going to see those for a while. 

I think we do some kind of thing for every six month mark that we have but the last one is the night before you leave you burn a suit and I wouldn´t mind that. I have dry cleaned my suits and they still stink. I sweat way to much. 

Those elites are comfortable I know. Keep up the work outs. Almost 20 pounds is freaking good. 

love Elder Billingsley

Letter to Mom

Yeah, I much rather teach kids they are so much more fun and believe everything you say to them. I have definitely been eating good. The food here is making me fat but I can´t lie I'm so dead every day. When I walk into piso I just want to sleep and do nothing. To make it worse my bed really sucks so my back is a little messed up but I guess that is part of being out here. 

Yeah I get letters from Bro Furqueron about every month and I do write him back. I have gotten letters from the Breaux family for Christmas and birthday/valintines day and all the grandparents and people from Christmas and yes girls do write me sometimes. 

I got coles letter and I will write him back. I was thinking maybe it is a better idea if you send the letters to the mission office because I have seen some letters come to our piso for elders that were here 4 or 5 months ago and those letters were sent about that time too. Tell cole that I will write him back soonish. I just need to get some stamps. 

Taxes are just so great. I don´t think I will get anything for the amout of time I worked there I don´t know maybe I will get like 20 bucks or less. 

hope everyone is good and staying busy.

love Elder Blake Billingsley

Pictures from 2/24/2014

     This Castle/Palace here in Santander on the Atlantic coast.

We bought and cooked up this chicken last Monday and this is a picture from one of the roads in my area on a nicer day than I have seen here in Santander. 

Letter from 2/24/2014


Well my companion actually goes home this week. Not with the transfer so we are still in a three sum until Wed so it is kind of difficult to work. I don´t really like it that much and he is getting super trunkie right now so it makes it even worse. His head is at home in Chile, but things are going good for the most part just working here with the longest list of menos activos I have ever seen in my life and most of these people either don´t live in the address we are given of the address doesn´t exist. So we have some long days but some interesting conversations with people. 

I finally can communicate fairly well with people it isn´t to bad anymore. the other day i had a 30 min conversation on the phone with this Spanish guy who is like 45 years old. He has no job and isn´t married and he still lives with his parents. He is a menos activo and is just a really really big kid. Weirdest guy I have ever met in my life and he talks so fast you can´t get 5 words in unless you say hey let me talk for 5 min without you saying anything and then you are lucky if you get 5 words in after that before he talks. He is nuts. 

NEXT WEEK I HIT THE 6 MONTH MARK! I can´t believe that I have been gone for so long  already. 

Well really we have a lot of work to do here in Santander because we don´t have any investigators. It was a rough transfer with no investigators just menos activos. A lot of walking and a lot of door knocking. I am wiped out right now. 

Sounds like everyone is doing good at home. I can´t believe the things Bria says. 

Well I don´t really have a ton to share but I finally have my first companion from the states from Utah. I think they are all from Utah. 

love, Elder Blake Billingsley
Letter to Mom

Well I guess I didn't explain this to well. We have 5 missionaries in Santander right now. My companion is leaving this week, a month before the next transfer when he is suppose to leave. We have a few threesomes in the mission because of missionary´s leaving to go home and go to school in there own countries. So there is one companionship of two here and then our companion ship of three, but this Wed we will be back to 4 missionary´s here in Santander. 

The mission is getting big. No one thinks it will happen soon but because there are so many missionary´s in the missions in Spain they might have to create a new mission with less distance and less missionaries so it is easier for the presidents of the missions to deal with everything. 

Wow in the middle of writing my email the power here in the locotorio went out and they just turned it back on so I have been going around to all these super nice stores looking at suits and random stuff. The power just came back on so I can right now.  

Flip I forgot that Brenley starts high school in September and I will have a year on the mission at that point. Seminary will be a lot different for her and it doesn´t surprise me that McKenzie still has a hard time getting out the door on time. She has done that for ever. It use to drive me nuts when I was driving her to school. 

I think my favorite part about being on a mission is a the studying I get to do in the morning. You find things that you forgot or didn´t know before. I usually read the book of Mormon every morning and I am almost done reading it for a second time. Well I'm in Alma so I still have a lot to read. And then I study something out of preach my gospel or one of the principles from a lesson. Wow I can not spell or say anything right now. I have been on a lot of splits with and elder that doesn´t speak English so I have been speaking a ton. I have noticed that I am actually able somewhat carry on a conversation.

I am having a blast over here though and time is flying.

Love Elder Blake Billingsley

Letter from 2/18/014


Yep, I remember how loud Cole is. I think I am actually starting to get my hearing back after almost six months of not hearing him speak which is really more like yelling. We actually have transfers today so we have p day today and we will be a three some for a week with my new companion Elder Daines. Elder Perez is ending his mission a month early to start school and goes back to Chile next week. He is super trunkie right now but won´t admit it. 

It seems to be a big push right now in the church to reactivate the menos activos. They do lead to potential baptisms and usually it is their family members so this is a great way to teach. I kind of think it is because there is an increase in missionaries but not much of an increase in baptisms. So the church is trying to push the missionary work in other directions. Having the members reach out to less actives and their friends a little more and bring the missionary's people to teach. It is different everywhere though. It definitly depends on the family and the people they know. Not everyone knows people that are ready to accept the gospel but by example and doing the things we are supposed to do, everyone can add to the missionary work in some form. 

Today we got together with this guy in our ward and bought a couple of chickens and some other food. He cooked those things up so freaking good. I think I ate half a chicken myself and I feel so fat right now. It was super good. He is actually like 19 and works for some restaurant that is super expensive. He really cooks amazing food. I still miss moms food though. 

Yep, that is the cd I wanted. I think it gets played all the way through at least three times a day since we only have the mormon tabernacle choir stuff with us in this piso. Well still having fun out here and I can´t believe this transfer is almost up. At the begining of March I will have six months. It is going way to fast and sometimes I feel like I am not learing the laungugae fast enough or different points in lessons. I know the stuff but sometimes when people have questions it is harder to explain. Thank you for all the birthday stuff.

love, Elder Blake Billingsley
Letter to Mom

Wow primary presidency! At least you are with little kids, it is a little bit easier than gospel doctrine. I can´t believe that Cole is going to be 12, I feel like I just started inthe young mens program and now I am on a mission. I almost have six months in like 2 more weeks. Time is flying by so fast. Haven´t made the birthday cake yet but I will this week. I just need to get oil for it. We really just keep teaching the same less active memberes every week and it really gets tireing when they don´t respond to our efforts. Last week we had to get a little bold and just flat out ask this old spanish guy if he has been smoking because we can smell it everytime we come over and we see cigaretts everywhere but he always tells no. It really drives us nuts and he won't go to church unless we stop by his house in the moring and pick him up. 

I loved my birthday box and everything in it. I defintily needed that jump rope. I have been gaining a ton of weight here in Santander with all the meals we eat with members and they load you up. Especially if they are from South America. Big mounds of rice with beans and chicken. The Colombians definitly know how to cook rice. How many missionary´s could go out this next year from our ward? 

I have been super tired lately with how busy we are especially with all of the bus rides wich are like two hours each way for conferences and exchanges. Last week we had a 4 hour bus ride out to San Sebastian for a baptism interview we stayed over night and then came back on a 4 hour bus ride. I was so dead. I have seen a ton of Spain. I hope everyone is doing well cause I am having fun over here.

love, your favoite child and all the others know it

Elder Blake Billingsley 

Letter from 2/12/2014


I'm glad everyone is doing good. Snow, I miss the snow so much wish I was there. 

Yeah we had a specialized training in Bilbao, so we stayed there Sunday night and Monday night and got back late last night and we have p day today. It was freaking awesome to go to the conference I don´t think I have ever felt the spirit more strongly in my life in a conference. We had one point were president broke down and started crying because of the response he got from us when he asked how many of us had helped bring a menos activo back to church and every single hand went up. He broke down and had Hermana Pace take a picture with our hand in the air. Every single had was raised. 76 missionaries with raised hands. We talked a lot about so many things but especially about the plan of salvation and the atonement and how to better teach but to better teach we need to understand it better so the amount of things I learned blows my mind. We have a goal to baptize 1500 people in our mission this year. 

Yes, I got my packages at zone conference and they were freaking awesome. Thank you so much. It was pretty freaking awesome. and chocolate is my favorite. I love chocolate macadamias to.  Thank you for the cd also did you know it was shipped form Argentina? 

Well everything is awesome here. There are times that are tough and I still struggle with the language but I don´t think that will ever go away, but I love it here and everything is awesome. 

love Elder Blake Billingsley
or as the members call me Elder Billi

Well it sounds like every one is having fun. I can´t believe that I have a sister that is 14 and one will be 17 soon. What the heck?

Yep, I got my packages and I love them thank you so much for them. 

No, we haven´t heard anything at all about i pads or facebook but someone said that Europe will be getting that stuff through the years so we will see definitly by the end of my mission that is for sure. I love it hear in Santander. We actually have transfers coming up on this next tuesday and I will probably be in a three some because my current companion is leaving to go home in two weeks to start school. He ends his mission like 1 month early. But I love it here and we are working hard. I don´t think I have ever been so tired in my life. But at least i get to make a cake and eat it. I have been wanting some chocolate for a while. 

I can´t believe it snowed. I miss it so much. I did see some snow when we went to stake conference two weeks ago in Vitoria but it wasn't sticking. 

love Elder Billingsley

Letter from 2/3/2014

Yes, I was waiting to hear if Seattle would win! 

Well dad I don´t feel to bad for you when you had to attend 3 sessions of stake conference. I had to attend one but I had to take a bus 2 hours to the stake center where it was snowing and then sit through 2 hours of priesthood then 2 hours of stake conferenc and 2 hours back to Santander. And then the next day there was a broadcast for Spain, Portugal and some other place and it was all in Spanish. Well I think every single talk given was on hastening the work and I can tell you that they are really pushing us hard. The goal for the whole area of Europe is to double the number of members in the church in the next ten years. All they are asking everyone to do this year that is in the church is to think of one pearson and work with them. Just one person each. If that were to happen the church world more than double in ten years but everyone has to have a part in the missionary work.  The whole point of the conference was basically to tell the members that they are really the missionaries and that the full time missionarys are there to just help the process. 
Well I had my birthday yesterday which I actually kind of forgot about and it was pretty good. I haven't got my package yet but I get to pick it up next week in Bilboa because we have a multi zone specialzed training for two days so we might be put in a hotel.  It was good. There is this family from Colombia here that is awesome. They made me this pineapple cake which was freaking yummy. and we had like a family home evening with them. They are probably my favourite family here. 

Well it sounds like everyone is busy and having fun their and I am here to.  So busy that I can´t believe this transfer is almost over and that I have been out for almost 6 months. Almost a quarter of my mission gone. Holy cow. As for the Spanish it is still coming very slowly. According to everyone my spanish is going to start improving in the next few months really fast. I can understand practically everything but when I speak I forget words and my grammer sucks, but I will get it eventually. 

Love Elder Blake Billingsley

Thank you for the video it was awesome. I know I can´t belive that I am 19 already and that I almost have 6 months in the mission. Crazy. No I havent got my package yet but I get to pick it up in Bilbao next week for a speciallized traing that will last two days. Yep, I got one from the Hammonds and from Grandma Kay but I don´t think I have gotten one for grandma and grandpa yet. It should get here this week. 

I am having tons of fun here and working hard always staying busy. We had stake conference saturday 2 hours away and then a broadcast sunday with the area presidency and Elder Ballard and of cousrse eveything was in Spanish so that was fun but every single talk in every conference was on missionary work. Every session from priesthood to stake to the broadcasted session. The goal for europe in the next 10 years is to double the number of members. Talk about hastening the work. They are really pushing things hard here to grow the church and make it stronger. In our mission alone this year President Pace has a goal for our mission to baptize 30 people a week wich is like 1500 people in the year. this is a really big goal for Europe. There is a reason this mission was named el farro or the light house. Now I don´t like to brag but this is clearly the best mission in the world!  There is actually a lady I taught in Barcelona with a baptismal date for this saturday and hope she is baptized. 

Love Elder Blake Billingsley