Monday, March 30, 2015

Because He Lives

It's a sunny day in Grand Rapids. The last several days have been a little colder but this week we are supposed to be in the 50s!! The work is moving forward and I am loving every moment of it. This transfer has FLOWN and now as we start week 6, it is unlikely that me and Elder Dunn will get to be companions for another transfer. We had a great week and we have another great week planned!

Tuesday I was on trade-offs with Elder White. We got to see Louie, who is a Buddhist that has been meeting with missionaries for a long time. He is a great guy and he really just enjoys us coming to visit him. We also got to see a few less actives and did some finding downtown. 

Wednesday, we had district meeting. A few weeks ago I was talking to the assistants and told them that they should come to one of my district meetings this transfer and so they came and were at my district meeting. I was nervous to be teaching a district meeting with one of the assistants there but I felt like it was a good district meeting! I also was on trade-offs with Elder Fisher this week, who is a newer missionary. We got to teach a guy from Rwanda and it was probably the most difficult lesson that I have taught because of the language barrier that we had... 

Thursday, we taught Ivanko who is our super solid investigator! We taught him the Plan of Salvation and he loved it! He is really looking for direction and purpose in his life and he seemed to really enjoy the lesson! We also got to teach Jamie, who is a less active member who has had a rough time lately but she is doing better and came to church Sunday! 

Friday, we got to help a lady in the ward do some work in her yard. She has a lot of limbs that were cut down a few months ago and we helped her son use a wood chipper to chip all of the limbs. It was super cold but it was fun! We also stopped by to see several people and had several other lessons with them. 

Saturday all of our plans fell through and we found ourselves doing quite a bit of finding downtown. We talked to several people and had a few miracles that we were able to find some awesome people that accepted return appointments with for this next week!! Yesterday, we had several people come to church and had a great Sabbath!!

In other news... The Chicken Coop, where we ate at a few months ago, has had several shootings and robberies lately and the cops told the owners that if they didn't start closing earlier they were going to station a mobile unit outside of their building. Luckily they agreed to close earlier. 

Also, the church is doing an awesome Easter campaign called Because He Lives!! It has an awesome video that you can watch and share on General Conference is this week!! I am super excited to hear the words of our living prophet and apostles and to receive direction from the Lord!! All 4 sessions can be watch on, Mormon Channel, BYUtv, and at all LDS chapels. I encourage all of you to at least watch one of the lessons and see how the words of living prophets can benefit your lives!

Lastly, transfer calls are Friday. I don't expect to get transferred but you never know. I will let you know next week whether I am being transferred, if I have a new address, and who my new companion is.

I am grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ and for the blessings I am able to see in my life every day because of it. As we celebrate and remember the last week of the mortal ministry of our Savior, Jesus Christ, I am reminded of just how much hope and joy it gives me to know that I am able to one day return to live with my Heavenly Father. I am so blessed to not only have this gospel in my life but to also proclaim it to all of Heavenly Father's children here in Michigan. We are all blessed with opportunities to bless the lives of those around us every single day and it is a sacred trust that should not be taken lightly.
Anyways, thanks for all of the love and support!! I hope y'all have a great week!!

Elder Bloskas

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Jesus is Enough

Well it was another great week in Grand Rapids. I realize that I say that every single week but I am really enjoying being here in Michigan and honestly, when you are doing the Lord's work there is nothing that could be better.
Tuesday we had interviews with President Jacobsen and District meeting. My district had our district meeting first and I talked about more effective planning so that our missionary work can be more productive. Then we watched Meet The Mormons while each of us waited to be interviewed. Interviews were supposed to be over by 12 but they were not done until close to 2. I was the last one to be interviewed in my district and me and President Jacobsen got to talk about the district and what we can do to best help each of the members of my district. He is such an inspired man and I am blessed to be able to work with him! 

Tuesday evening we taught a lady named Samantha, which unfortunately we had to pass over to the other Grand Rapids elders since she lives in their area now. But she is an awesome lady and I am excited to see her progress in the gospel. 

Wednesday we had the funeral for the mom and the two kids that I mentioned in my email last week. We showed up early and helped set up chairs and did last minute preparations for the funeral. There were about 450 people that showed up for the funeral! During the first of the funeral me and Elder Dunn got to do a little security detail, while making sure that the news crews that were camped outside of the building didn't come in and record the funeral since the family requested that they have their privacy. Me and Elder Dunn even went outside and talked to the news people but left after we realized that they were just trying to get information out of us. The funeral went really good and I think that the family really appreciated all of the effort that went into it. At the end of the funeral the Grandmother of the 2 young children (who is a member of our church) got up unannounced and spoke to everyone there. It was amazing and it was obvious that her strong faith was what was keeping this family together is such a difficult time. One of the things that she kept saying was that "Jesus is enough" and that all of the pain and sadness would be able to be healed through Jesus Christ and his Atonement. It was really a sad service as everyone grieved over the lose of such young lives. The little girl, who was 12 when she passed away, came to our church quite a bit with her grandma and she had told her parents a few weeks before her death that she really wanted to be baptized into our church. I am grateful for the knowledge that we have that she will be able to accept the gospel in its entirety on the other side of the veil and will be able to be receive the ordnance of baptism.

Friday, I was on trade-offs with the Zone Leaders. I was with Elder Peterson in my area and we had a great day. We taught a new guy that is from Brazil who is super prepared and accepted a baptismal date the first lesson. He has had a hard life and is really looking to find peace and healing through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Saturday, we taught several lessons before heading to Kalamazoo with the Banners. We were given permission to go see a musical called Lamb of God that was being put on in Kalamazoo. It was an amazing musical; about the Savior's last few days in mortality and about his resurrection. It was written and directed by members of our church but since it was a community effort that involved people of over 50 different churches they asked us to not proselyte at all while we were there. In an effort to honor their request the mission asked us to remove our name tags while we were there. It was the first time in 9 months that I haven't been wearing my name tag and it was really strange... 

Yesterday was a great day at church and we had several lessons yesterday. Last night I finally taught Brother Banner how to tie a bow tie since I promised him weeks ago that I would teach him. I think that he did pretty well at doing it! I have included a photo since I thought that we looked pretty snazzy!!
Well this week should be another great week as I finish my last 2 trade-offs with members of my district and then next week (On April 3rd) we will have transfer calls. This transfer has FLOWN!! Thanks for all of the love, support and prayers!!

Elder Bloskas

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

It was another great week in Grand Rapids. It has warmed up a bit and I was even able to go out in short sleeved shirts a few times this week! I spent most of my week on trade-offs in the Spanish area so I spent a lot of time brushing up on my Spanish. I never thought that I would say this but... I really wish I would have paid better attention in my 2 years of Spanish in high school. But I feel like I am picking it up quickly and was able to say enough to get me by. But here is an update on all the happenings of the week!
Monday, we got to go bowling. The guy working was having problems with his credit card machine so he let all of us bowl for free! It was pretty awesome! Gotta love free stuff! We also taught a new investigator named Adria and she is awesome. She has met with missionaries in the past and hopefully she will continue to progress. 
Tuesday, I was in the Spanish area with Elder Free. He is an older missionary who is really good at Spanish and he was helping me to learn a little bit of the language so that I would be able to talk to people throughout the day. I got to do a baptismal interview for a guy that another district leader is teaching that was baptized on Saturday. We had several appointments fall through but we got to teach a few people. 
Wednesday we had a zone training. We also went and saw a few less-active members and had a few lessons with people. 
Thursday, me and Elder Dunn were doing weekly planning when we got a phone call from a lady at the hospital. She was not a member of the ward but had received our number from someone at the hospital (we still have no idea who) and she asked if we could come and give a blessing to her daughter who wasn't doing well. When we arrived we learned that her daughter was pronounced brain dead just a short time earlier. It was really hard to find the worlds to share with this family as they shared how much anger they had towards God for taking the life of such a young child. After having a prayer with the family I was able to pronounce a blessing over this young girl while her mother and aunt sobbed next to me. I blessed her and her family and really felt the Spirit work through me to say the words that this family needed to hear to comfort them. Then we spent a few minutes talking to the family before we left. It was an experience that I don't think that I will ever forget as I felt like there was so little that I could do when I wanted to do so much more to help this family in their sorrow. Then we spent the rest of the day in downtown Rockford talking to people on the streets since is is warmer.
Friday, I was back in the Spanish area with Elder Bird. We had a lot of fun as we went and met several people. It was a lot of fun and me and Elder Bird thought about grabbing a crate from their apartment and Soap-box preaching downtown since we have always wanted to do that but decided not to... 
Saturday we went to a family history fair at the church with a few of our investigators. It was a great experience for them and I think that they really enjoyed it. Saturday evening we went to the baptism of William (the guy who I interviewed) and Jerry was able to come with us! 
Yesterday was a great sabbath. Me and Elder Dunn got to help with Primary and dressed up as prophets! I will include a picture of me. Apparently I was wearing it wrong and had to fix it after the picture was taken but this will give you an idea of what I was dressed like.
Well I think that is it for the week. We have another busy week ahead of us. There was a mother and 2 of her kids that were murdered this week that were members of our church and they are holding a funeral this week so we will be doing a lot for that but other than that we will be doing a lot of teaching and finding this week!! I hope you have a great week!!

Elder Bloskas

Monday, March 9, 2015

Well it was another great week in G-Rap! I am blessed to continue to see the Lord doing miracles in Grand Rapids.

Tuesday I was on trade-offs with Elder Schultz. He is a missionary that was supposed to serve in Brazil but was never able to get his visa and so he ended up staying here in Michigan. We had an interesting day where we had several appointments cancel and then the one that didn't cancel was drunk and we ended up just leaving after a few minutes when we realized that he wasn't going to be able to focus at all. Since it snowed a lot Monday night we actually shoveled several people's sidewalks and I got my workout in for the week.  I think we spent a total of 3 hours on different people's sidewalks doing service for them as we were door knocking. 

Wednesday I taught district meeting over the importance of the Book of Mormon in our missionary efforts and then I was on trade-offs again with Elder Grover, who is a new Spanish missionary. We had a few of our appointments cancel (seemed to be the story of the week) and then I got to take him door knocking. Since he is new to the mission he isn't as comfortable door knocking yet but I thought that it would be good for him to get to door knock in some nicer areas since most of his area is the lower end of the city. I helped him out quite a bit and then before one of the doors I told him that this was his door and that he was going to do great on it and get a return appointment for us to come back. He was really confident and I thought he was going to really have a great door until I heard someone open the door on the side of the house by the drive way. We walked off the porch and around towards the drive way just in time to see a young woman slip on ice and fall really hard on the ground hitting her head. She started to bleed from her head and I felt really bad for her. She told us that she wasn't interested and went back inside to take care of cleaning up her head. Elder Grover felt really bad and felt like it was his fault that she fell since it was "his door".   I had to assure him that these type of things happen and that it wasn't his fault. 

Thursday, me and Elder Dunn were back together and got to go work in Rockford! It's an awesome small town that really has a hometown feel to it. I really enjoy going there it just hasn't been as productive for missionary work in several months. Friday, we had several appointments and got to meet with several of our solid investigators! 

Saturday we drove to Holt and went to Ed's funeral. It was good to see several people from my previous area but I wish that the circumstances were different. Saturday night we got to meet with Lyndsay's family. It was a great lesson as we got to eat dinner with them and talk to them about all of the things that we have been teaching Lyndsay and about our church. It was probably one of the most guided by the Spirit lessons that I have taught as we were able to explain simply and clearly all of the things that our church teaches. It was great and they invited us to come back and teach them more! It was so amazing.

Yesterday after church we got to do some more door knocking and since it was a blazing 40 degrees me and Elder Dunn didn't even wear our jackets! We met with like 4 people that were hostile towards the church and were super rude to us on the door steps. I faced a lot of that in Holt.  I think that it might just be when we are just in white shirts and ties that people are able to recognize us easier and they feel the need to tell us just how wrong we are and how they are worried for our salvation. We had a guy earlier in the week that was a seminary student that wanted to meet with us to argue over what we believed but we told him that we didn't feel like that would be beneficial. I have learned that most of the people that are hostile towards the church just have misconceptions about the church and don't take the time to really learn what we actually believe. They just believe the rumors that they hear which is really kind of sad that they don't even give us a chance to answer any of their questions and tell them the truth of what we teach. But that is how Christ's church has always been. There have always been people that have spoken against Christ's church like in Rome when Paul was preaching he says,  "But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against." -Acts 28:22

I am excited for this week. I will be going to the Spanish areas twice this week. I have been trying to learn some Spanish so that I will be able to use it so we will see. I am sure that I will be receiving some divine help as I am teaching and am excited to see the Lord work through me! Well I think that is it for the week!! It is starting to warm up here and I am excited for what this spring and summer have in store! Thanks for all of the love and support!!
-Elder Bloskas

P.S. Here is a picture of probably the happiest man I have ever met. We drive by him a few times a day as he stands outside of a business that does taxes.  He is always smiling and waving even when it is freezing outside. People that work hard and are happy when it is tough, like this man, are an inspiration to me and a reminder that I can do hard things!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Working at the Factory

What an amazing week it has been. The last several weeks the Lord has continued to allow us to see miracles here in Grand Rapids and this week was no different! We met 4 new people that we are now teaching!
Monday night we had a birthday party for a less active member that we have been working with since none of her family talks to her and she has been having a really rough time. She lives on a rough side of town and so we decided to go a little earlier than we originally planned so that we wouldn't be there when it was a little more dangerous. It was an amazing experience. The Spirit was strong as we enjoyed hearing stories about her life and her eyes filled with tears as we began to leave. As we were leaving me and Elder Dunn looked at each other and talked about how it was an amazing experience and that I could honesty serve my whole mission and have that one experience and I would know that I had been successful and had really touched someone's life.
Tuesday we had an awesome lesson with a new investigator named Jerry. (He is the one that tagged me in the photo on Facebook if you saw it.) He is so awesome. He told us about how the Book of Mormon has changed his life. His mom was a member of the church when he was growing up but he was never baptized. He made a few wrong choices in his life and read the Book of Mormon while he was in prison. He said that as he read it in prison that it changed his life and that he has read it several times. He was unable to be baptized right after he got of jail since he was on parole but now that he is off parole he is set to be baptized on March 28! We also had another great lesson with Lyndsay and she is still doing great and came to church yesterday! On Wednesday and Thursday we met with several less active members and tried to catch up with potential and former investigators. Also on Thursday we met with "Doc" and "Budda" (those are their street names) They live in a downtown apartment complex that now has like 5 people that we are meeting with. Me and Elder Dunn have now started calling this place The Factory! They gave Brother Banner a street name, "Old Dog", but have yet to give me and Elder Dunn a street name. They are 2 crazy guys that have lots of stories about all these famous people that they have gotten to meet through a catering business that they work for. The had a lot of interesting questions about the Bible and about religion but it was an awesome lesson! Friday we had another lesson with Jerry and he brought one of his friends with him and we are going to start teaching him also. On Saturday we helped a lady move into her apartment and then had a lesson with Samantha another new lady we are teaching that is set to be baptized on March 28!
It truly was a great week as we were able to see the hand of the Lord in our lives every single day and we were able to see a lot of success.
This week is going to be another great week. I am going to be going on trade-offs with the other missionaries that are serving in the ward and later this week I will be on a trade-off with a new missionary who is serving in the Spanish area! Also, this past week I found out that Ed (my recent deaf convert that me and Elder Bass baptized in Holt) passed away... President Jacobsen is allowing me to drive to Holt on Saturday for the service. I was reminded of just how lucky I was to meet such a great man and am comforted to know that he is on the other side of the veil in paradise!
That's all the news for the week!! I hope that yall have a great week! Thanks again for all of the love and support! I pray for you every single day and feel your love as I serve here in Michigan!!

-Elder Bloskas