Monday, October 27, 2014

Letter from 9/29/2014


Well everything is going good here it is just raining a ton here in Lleida too. I hate the rain as a missionary. So I live in the biggest piso in our mission. It is two stories and it is just super super nice. The top floor has three balconies, 3 showeres which are top of the line showers and it is just the biggest piso I have ever been in. It has wood and tile floors and the floors are heated we have heated towl racks for the showers. It is like a spa. Ok so I feel like a pampered baby right now in Europe.

Not gunna lie I miss yard work. Actually I just miss yards grass trees and dirt. That is the hardest thing to find here. I am sure you guys will have the funnest trip to Utah and back in a three day time span.

Well it sounds like everyone is doing good and keeping busy like always. Nothing better to do than to be busy. I miss sports so much. I think a miss high school and college sports more than anything. Wow a school record of 500 passing yard that is ridiculous.

That is so cool Jamaica. I actually finally got an email from Garrett after like the last 6 months that said that. Super happy for him. Can´t wait to here where Smith goes. I love hearing about it. Especially since I was one of the only ones right there at the beginning of my mission.

Well things are going to pick up here in Lleida. It has potential the work has just never been organized so we are going to be working on that.

Well love you have a great week.

Elder Blake Billingsley
Letter to Mom

Doing great here in Lleida. We set 2 baptismal days and found some new investigators. My area has a lot of potential but the missionaries have been kind of unorganized so if it gets organized this place could pump out baptisms for days. Wow that is super cool that there was a nother baptism in the ward. I have never seen a baptism that I can remember from before I left. The church is really pushing it and it is true this is reallly the greatest work that there is.

I know the months are just flying by and everyone says that it will just go faster and faster towards the end of the mission and I am now on the downhill side. The girls that came into the mission with me only have 5 months left. That is crazy.

Well I haven´t thought about anything for Christmas but if I think of anything I will tell you for sure.

Wow I can´t believe that Spencer is getting married this week. I totally forgot about that. It will be nuts but for sure it will be fun. We hope. haha

Well doing good for the most part here. Although I did get sick last week for a bit and my suitcases broke but I think I can fix them Another thing, do you remember how they couldn´t pull my wisdom tooth out because it was so far up? Well it is coming in now. So I am just hoping I can take care of it without anything happening to it or it jacking up my teeth. It seems to becoming in straight for now but I will tell you about it if something happens. Heck if I really need to I can have it pulled but then I would look like a chipmunk for a while again.

But everything is good. I did get a little trunkie this last week thinking about home and the weather change at this time and football. It kind of killed me.

Love you

Elder Blake Billingsley

Letter from 9/22/2014


Well this is definitely one of the most different areas of the mission. There are so many Africans here just straight out of Africa that walk around with traditional African dress or not. And then we have what are called gitanos(gypsies). So needless to say we actually have a super ghetto area to work in. It kind of is a little creepy to work in during the evening. The ward here is full of Dominicans too so that is just one more accent to get down for me.

Well I am super excited to hear about the things people are doing at home especially with Smith getting his mission call soon hopefully.

Well this last week I have been kind of sick with the start of a transfer so that kind of sucks. It is definitely the worst. You feel like you are about to die but it is always worth it somehow. It started out with just a sore throat and then I got an ear infection I know I did then I got a massive head cold and I am starting to get rid of it. So hopefully this week I can get to work hard in my new area. I was just kind of working and getting to know the area a little this last week.

I guess when we have stake conference here in November in the Lleida stake Elder Quentin L. Cook will be there at the conference so that will be exciting. Not to often that you get to be at a stake conference when that happens and  it is so crazy to think that a year ago I was in Madrid when Elder Ballard came to talk to the missionaries there.

Well sound like everyone is just destroying there new school year and sports year. So today when we went to the gym I ended up having some Spanish body builder ask me to spot him in the gym. a little weird talking about lifting weights in Spanish. It was a little weird he just looked around the room and then came straight for me and asked me to spot him. Big dude.

Well here in Lleida no worries we are still speaking Spanish. There are still a fair amount of Africans that speak Spanish. Not all speak very well but it is what it is and there are still Spanish people and Latinos so we get work done but I would like to see it go to how I saw it in Catarroja. Guess we have some work to do. Missionary work is weird. It is just a weird lifestyle and I have a year of this stuff under my belt. Oh yeah you are never going to believe this but those indestructible suit cases handles broke on me this last transfer. The way we travel in Europe just is rough on them. Everyone's suitcases break though mine have actually made it a long time. I think I can fix it and get a few more moves out of them. The bags themselves are fine it is just the handle but that can be fixed I think. Who knows, I could only have one area after this place.

well love ya

Elder Blake  Billingsley 
Letter to Mom
Hey mom,
Well I am doing good here. I have been sick the past week however. As soon as I got here I came down with something wich really sucks but whatever. Yeah this gym is awesome. The guy that owns it is a member and is actually a body builder he is huge but it kind of is disgusting but whatever I get in for free. This morning I had to help spot some Spanish body builder while he benched. That was a trip. that dude put up so much weight but it was weird because it was all in kilograms which I am not use to at all still. He was massive though. He probabaly asked me because my companion is a small little guy. Needless to say I felt pretty big. 

I still can´t beleive that kenzie is going to be starting here college application. That is crazy. 

I have gotten a few things from the Hammonds and not really anyone else but i have been super bad about sending thankyou letters. I feel terrible about that. 

Well here in Lleida I feel like I have been reasiggned to Africa because there are so many Africans and the majority are Muslim. It is just crazy. And the ward is all Domincan basiclally but they are super good people. It is just a really lazy area is the only way I can put it and they have always had a hard time baptizing here. We defintly have some work cut out for us. 

My companion is Elder Nuemiller for Orange County California. His mom is from Peru but he didn´t speak spanish at all befroe the mission. We are geting a long great so far. He is definitely a BYU guy.

Well love you

Elder Blake Billingsley

Letter from 9/15/2014

Well I am transferred to Lleida they call it the armpit of the mission. They almost never baptize here so looks like I got some work to do and just when things where getting good in my area in Catarroja. We had 9 investigators in church and wow I have never seen that many in church in our mission. Usually about 6 is the max because it is put as a mission goal but some how we pulled 9 out of the hat. It has just been a killer summer litterally a killer but I had a stud companion for my last transfer a we just gelled and I don´t know the work was just on fire. We taught people right and left. By far my most successfull transfer but now I get to start where I was with my first transfer there in Catarroja. 

So with saying bye to everyone the last two days it kinda sucked. I actually said bye to more investigators than to members. I had one lady who is an investigator at the end of church come up to me and say thank you for stopping me in the street and talking to me you answered my prayers and you really are an angel and went on for a few minutes and then she just gives me a big fat hug and a kiss. Weirdest momet of my life get a kiss from a Columbian lady. No worries it was all lips. Nah just jokin she left lipstick on my cheek though. 

So I guess here in Lleida there is a member who owns a gym and lets us in for free in the morning.  

Well sounds like everyone is doing good there. Hope that I hear more about some mission calls soon. Boy I miss sports. 

Love you

Elder Billingsley
Letter To Mom

Well I got transferred to.........LLeida! About an hour North of Barcelona and well looks like I am in the same situation here as I was in Catarroja just  a lot of finding to do. They litteraly have no one for investigators. Seriously as soon as the area booms they pull me out and stick me somewhere else. Not cool. Pero es lo que hay. Sunday was my last Sunday in Cattarroja and we had 9 investigators at church and when I got there we had 0. Oh yeah and when you leave an area you eat about 20,000 calories. I ate so much yesterday. I had to catch the train early this morning to Barcelona and then caught one to Lleida. I got transferred with some people that I really havent seen in like a year since the mtc. So that was really cool.

Oh yeah gotta love that seminary. Just glad I don´t have to go anymore. Hey you can tell Mike Peck that I am working out. Here in Lleida there is a member who owns a gym and he lets us in for free in the morning. So we wake up at 6:30 to go hit it up. Got to take advantage especially since I will be here through the holidays most likely. I don´t think I have had a hotter summer ever than the one in Valencia. I am going to miss that place so much. It is so good there. 

Love you

Elder blake Billingsley 

Letter from 9/8/2014

Sounds like everyone is keeping busy as always and adjusting to the new school year. That is always fun....NOT! But just think next time at this year I will be in Idaho so that will be super crazy for me. It was super crazy here this week completing a full 365 day in Spain. There is a lady in the ward who is kinda like my mom/grandma here in Catarroja and she made me a cake. It was so good. It is going to kill me because I think I am leaving next week cause we have the transfer next Tuesday. So we will know the transfer this Tuesday. My time has really flown here in Catarroja. I have been here for 3 transfers already. The whole entire summer and the temperature still has not gone down yet. I will be mad to leave because supposedly Valencia has the best oranges in the world but hey don´t come off till like November. 
Tell Bria I will be waiting for my hugs and kisses. I miss her a lot. I was kinda having a bit of a trunkie week with hitting the year mark and thinking about landing in Madrid and the mtc and all that good stuff. Me and Elder Schoen are in the same zone right now. I don´t know if you remember him but he called me on the third and was like hey happy 1 year anniversary bro we met a year ago. The first two missionary's to meet from are group and the only two not form Utah. I love that guy so much. He is a stud. 

Well that is what I am talking about. It is all about those Seahawks. Can´t wait to hear about how they do. I just keep telling myself this is my last season without football in my life and then next year I get back right before it all starts up. 

Hey not going to lie you guys are probably better off without the tv right now. With everything you all do who even watches that stuff?

Right now we are teaching this lady who is going to get baptized on the 20th I believe and it is awesome she is from Venezuela and I have never met anyone so prepared in my life for this and I know I said that about the last two but I am positive she is going down. She is a beast and gets everything we tell her. 

Today we invited the whole zone to Catarroja for a volleyball competition and then we had water balloons too. What a blast we were going to do a bbq also but we couldn´t get a grill but it was fun. We substituted the bbq with horchata which is a really good drink. I love it. I am sure you have heard of horchata de aroz or mexican horchata but here they have horchata de chufa. Chufa I think is called tiger nut in English. I'm not sure. But it is like a mini potato kinda and they make a drink out of it. I like to get it were it is like an icy were it is frozen. It is so good but we had a blast. It was kinda like an end of the transfer zone party. 

Love Elder Blake Billingsley

Letter from 9/1/2014

Boom! Baptism...s!

So after Grinding it out the last 4 months here in Catarroja I saw some baptisms. They are two really great people and I can´t tell you guys how happy I am for them cause they both needed it so bad. And with the two baptisms this weekend we met our baptismal goal for the month of August. Well you know how it is we are always working with goals here in the mission. The whole thing was interesting though. Mercedes wanted her dad to baptize her so we had to ask his bishop in Madrid if he could do the baptism. And this had happened before with her and he wasn´t worthy to do it at the time but I guess he was this time. So we got him in the font and he dunked her about 5 times and had to say the prayer about 20 times till he got it right. In the end the stake president who is in our ward went over to the stairs and was telling him word for word what to say. But I think he is hard of hearing because I was trying to tell him what to say and he wouldn't repeat what I said and then my companion baptized Juan. Then in church the next day for the confirmations I had to whisper in her dads ear the entire prayer and when we got to the blessing I said y ahora la bendicion and he paused for a moment and gave a blessing that was a little different but it worked out. The experiences you have on the mission. Then I confirmed Juan and after church I conferred the aronic priesthood on him. It was a crazy experience to confirm him though. The spirit I could feel it so strongly. 

Then last night I was in one of the craziest lessons ever. So in one of the wards in Valencia the hermanas are teaching an 11 year old kid from equatorial guinea that actually lives in our area but he has been in Valencia with family for the summer. So we went to meet him so we could keep teaching him. Well his uncle is a recent convert of the sisters and is super smart and the kid has a cousin who I think she is about 13 years old but completely deaf. Anyways we went to Valencia last night with the sisters for this visit and the family doesn´t want to listen so we took a blanket out onto the roof of this building like 10 stories up and had a lesson. Weirdest lesson ever. One of the sisters thinks she is Hawaiian but is from Utah and super white the other one is half Columbian but has lived in the states forever. One missionary form Montana and the other from Washington having a lesson with 3 Africans one being a recent convert who is really smart and an 11 year old boy and a deaf girl who was super smart and just a happy girl and understood everything that was going on which was just amazing to me. That definitely went into my journal. 

Well that is just a little bit of my week this last week. I forgot to mention that we just set up two more baptismal fechas for this month. The work is picking up and it is getting hot.

That is so cool that Chaz is coming to my part of the world. I know tons of guys over there from the mtc and missionary's that live there too. Just tell him that from what I know from some of my friends over there he will be going to one of the most apostate missions ever. No, just joking but he will have some fun especially trying to understand the Andalucían accent it is the worst. It doesn´t even sound like Spanish and it takes awhile to understand. I think he has part of Africa in his mission too. Wow, that is so freaking awesome. you will definitely have to get his email for me. He is going to have a blast in the mtc and in Spain.

Boom Spencer is getting married what a beast. por fin se va a casar. 

Wow I sure miss garlic fries my companions family was just in Seattle like a week or two ago and went to a Mariners game. They were just passing by on there way up to Canada to B.C to visit family I think. kinda weird to think that are family's were closer together than we are to them. 

That´s it, Bria start out with the basics and just keep learning the Spanish. poco e poco.

Love Elder Blake Billingsley 
This is Juan and the family, his sister and his nephews they were such a big help in baptizing him. He got baptized in two weeks from the day we met him. Yep, they are from Columbia. 

                                        Juan and Mercedes
                         Mercedes with her dad, sister and the sister missionaries.

Letter form 8/25/2014

Hey Dad,

Dang I can´t believe that summer is almost over. I feel like it just started and now school is starting up. The crazy thing is I was just looking at the calendar and skype time is only four months away. 

Bria sounds like the biggest brat in the world. I can´t believe she talks so much and the things she says. She could say words when I left but no much more than that. Next week I hit a year in the mission but I have barely under a year to go till I jump on a plane and go home to the good old U S of A . Speaking of which we had a visit with this less active guy form Argentina who told us he loves the states 100 percent it is the best that there is. It made me and my companion laugh cause we have both been missing the states this last week. We both have about the same time in the mission. He has one more transfer than me. 

Another thing I have started keeping a list of the reasons people give me for not listening to us when we contact them or however we run into them and this week this guy told me. " no no siegan solo tengo 5 minutos de descanso antes de que me voy a trabajar  siegan siegan estoy mirando tonterías" ( no no leave I have five minutes of a work break and I am looking at STUPID THINGS). That made me laugh a little bit when I left cause he was on his phone doing who knows what and we just could have given him something to change his life in five minutes instead of looking at stupid things. I probably shouldn´t have laughed but at least I didn´t till we were around the corner. I don´t think I have every heard a dumber excuse in my life. Well anyways I have been keeping a list of excuses and they get pretty funny. I think I am going to send my favorite one of the week every week. Just one of those missionary things.  

Well this week we have those two baptisms coming up. Mercedes and Juan are getting baptized the 30th thanks to all the prayers. I have seen Juan make a complete 180 and it is so awesome. and Mercedes, it is about time she gets baptized. You know we go out in the street everyday and even by members we get shot down and fired on for visits but when you have that occasional baptism it makes all the tiredness and exhaustion and the bad times go away. They haven´t gotten baptized yet but I am 100 positive they will after everything that has gone down the last 2 days. I have never heard anyone say the 30th is my day do get baptized. 

Oh yeah I still need to write Keaton I just didn´t have time last time when you sent me the email

Love Elder Blake Billingsley   
Letter for Mom

Hey Mom,

I love you too. I bet things are super busy right now with everyone starting everything up and everybody going in differnt directions. Well we have had some crazy miracles happen this week. to start off we will be having two baptisms for sure this Saturday. Mercedes is going to be baptized and her dad is coming from Madrid to do it. She has been investigating for the past 8 months and I am so excited for here. She is from Ecuador and has been ready to get baptized for a while. I don´t know why she has waited for so long but she is going to go for a swim here this Saturday. Also we have Juan getting baptized the same day. We have been meeting with him about every day and at least had some kind of contact with him for the last week since we met him last Saturday. He is the brother of a lady in the ward who was baptized 2 years ago name Cristina. She called us up last Saturday and said hey my brother is here when can you come teach him today. What time can you come by? So we set a visit and passed by and he understands everything we teach him. Everything and he agrees with everything. He tells us it fills him up. Well yesterday we had a visit with him and he goes you know I just don´t think this is my week to be baptized. I will be baptized in the coming months but I just don´t feel ready. But he understands everything. Anyways we set a date for the 13 of September or something to try and baptise then. But when we left he started talking with his sister and it ended up that he realized he could'nt be perfect before or after his baptism but he just had to try to do better ( he is from Columbia and grew up with a crazy mother in a crazy environment) and that if he put off what he new was true it could get harder to take that step to be baptized. He is so ready! I have seen him make a complete 180 in just one week!

But with all the excitment and all the work we have been putting in our area the last three weeks I can honestly say I feel dead right now. I have never been this exhausted in my life. But I am having fun.

Elder Blake Billingsley

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Letter from 8/18/2014


Well sounds like everyone is doing really well there. Sometimes I wish I was there and sometimes I wish I wasn´t. Being here makes me realize that I am truly blessed to live where I do. Sometimes it makes you miss the United States. Maybe I am just a little patriotic but I love where we live. Then again I have had some of the weirdest but coolest experiences here in the mission and well, I wrote mom about them so you will have to read it, which I am sure you do. 

This week we had a miracle in our area. We set two fechas bautismales. El primero fijamos con una chicaa ecuatoriana quien ha investigado durante los últimos 8 meses y bueno ella es super preparada para bautizarse. Estoy mu agradecido que puedo ver su bautismo. Va a bautizarse el 30 de agosto. El segundo fecha que tenemos es uno de los mejor milagros que he visto en la misión hasta ahora. Tenemos una miembro aquí en Cattaroja quien se bautizo hace 2 años creo, pero ella tiene un hermano. Su hermano creo que era el miércoles tocó su timbre a las doce de la noche y le dijo. "Quiero pasar el fin de semana con vosotros, esta bien." Entonces nos llamo el sábado y nos dijo. " Mi hermano esta aquí en mi casa, vengan, quiero que le ensenan." Y bueno fuimos a su casa y le ensenamos la restauración y también fijamos la fecha del día 30. Hemos estado con el por los últimos 2 días y tenemos una visita con el hoy. Y también vino a la capilla ayer. Esta listo para bautizarse.

No sé si lo ha notado en los pasados cartas pero para mí me encuentro difícil para hablar en inglés. No es que hablo bien el español y tengo un campanero de los estados unidos pero. Ya me cuesta muchísimo. Todo bien aquí especialmente que ya tengo un compañero que le gusta a trabajar. Pero es cierto que aprendo algo do cada compañero.  

Love you

Elder Blake Blillingsley

P.S. No estoy bromando, cuando hablo inglés pienso en español. Me duele un poco y aveces es difícil de pensar cuando estoy escribiendo cartas.
Letter to mom
Hey mommy,

Wow sounds like it could really be crazy there when school starts. Glad I am here in the busy world of Spain. Actually I miss the United States more and more. Spain is an incredible place but I have never been more grateful for where I am from in my entire life. 

Wow Brother Breaux will be great in the bishopric and it is crazy how much the ward is growing. I wonder if they will end up spliting it ever. I don´t think we have a really big ward boundry either. You know it is really sad that Brother Reinhardt passed away but for me it was worse that he had to live the way he did. I am super glad that he has gone on to do other things. For sure he will help out on the other side. He was always trying to share the church with everyone in that residency. 

Yep I got the package from Hammond's and I loved it. I need to write them a letter. I loved the poem that they sent me it was awesome. 

Well this week we set up two baptismala fechas for the 30th of this month one with our investigator mercedes who is super prepared and another with the brother of a recent convert who I am postive will be baptized as well. We are doing work here in Catarroja and I am loving it. I can´t lie though I am really excited to be working with my new companion. We work really well together. This area here is taking of. I have had some crazy onece in a lifetime oportunity´s here in the mission. Right now my zone leaders are from Austria and England and I just had an entercambio with the Austrian/German and who else can say that they ran around spain all day talking to people about Jesus with an Austrian/German who speaks English and Spanish, and all day we just spoke spanish. Boom! also today I was on a hike with three Americans 2 Peruvians 2 Spaniards and a black guy from Angola. Crazy stuff happens here in Spain. I love it. Not to mention we visited an old Roman castle on the hike. 

Well hope eveything is going well and you all stay busy.

Love you 

Elder Blake Billingsley