April 18, 2016, Smiling

Hey Mom,

My pants are clean now. I've washed them. I'm not quite sure how the other elders met her (the other elders were teaching her before I got here). Yes we were late. Thanks for the tip.

J*'s doing great. He's making good progress. K*'s not really taking baptism seriously. Don't get me wrong, he's a great kid. But he's just that, a kid. A*'s doing amazing. We've actually moved up her baptismal date to the 30th!

My area's pretty big. We constantly are driving around 30 miles every day. That's just in town, not out where we got stuck. We cover one ward. The ward's big when it comes to the area it covers. Although, there aren't very many members.

Yes I'm eating well. I'm not starving. I'm trying to broaden my pallet and try new stuff. Which is hard when not many members feed me. They're starting to feed us more though. We have quite a few dinner appointments this week.

- Now for EBSA! (Elder Blanding's Spiritual Adventure) -

This week I learned how accurate the scriptures are in describing the spirit. One day we were out tracting and knocked into this young woman. We started talking and she told us that she prays pretty regularly. She told us of one time when she was praying that she heard a voice, even though she was the only one in the house. Elder Higgins asked her to read a scripture that might describe what she heard/felt. She said it described exactly what happened. It truly is amazing how much we can learn from our investigators and the spirit.

Love,

Elder Matthew Blanding

P.S. - I'm going to try doing EBSA weekly. So get used to it.

Elder Matthew Blanding (far right front)

Elder Matthew Blanding (far right front)

Also, I think this will help you. My companion told me that God won't judge you on skills you don't have. God doesn't care that you learned something latter in life that would have helped. He only cares that you did the best you could do with what you had.

I'm not sure I said any thing on what I got from General Conference. But the talk that really stood out to me was Elder Uchtdorf's in the Sunday Morning Session.

     If an can take the ruins, rubble, and remains of a broken city and rebuild an awe-inspiring structure that rises toward the heavens, how much more capable is our Almighty Father to restore His children who have fallen, struggled, or become lost? - Elder Uchtdorf.

He knows about [him]. He wants him back. And when He is ready, He will welcome him home.

April 13, 2016, A few days late

[Mom note: I didn't get an email on MONDAY!!!]

Hey Mom,

I think I have my feet under me. I'm still getting the hang of some things. Yes I got my bike. I've actually ridden it a couple of times,
[mom note: We bought his bike over the phone and had it waiting for him. He got there and they couldn't find it. We had to look over our credit card history to find the bike shop we bought it from. We found it and it eventually made it way from Macon to North Augusta. They hadn't put his name on it. Glad we did as it was expensive!!]

Elder Matthew Blanding's Bik

Elder Matthew Blanding's Bik

J*'s doing great. It'll be awhile for him to be re-baptized. This is going through the bishop so it's up to him when.

K* is an interesting case. He's be giving us the run around, literally. He's a great kid. He just needs to think and act like an adult when it comes to baptism.

Thanks for the recipes. I'm looking forward to using them. Thanks for the tip. The members don't really feed us that much. I've been to a few houses for dinner. We definitely don't get fed as much as elder Elder Blanding (like it?). We have a couple dinners coming up this week.

I'll have to try that the next time I have grits.

Yes I'm using the workouts. I can't get a full workout in the 30 minutes I have. Each workout takes a total of 42 minutes. So I do both circuits only once. This gives me a 26 minute workout. Besides, the letter you sent with them says to do it M,W,F. Me doing it this way gives allows me to start one on M,W,F, and finish it T,Th,S.

Thanks for doing that. I don't delete the photos on my camera after I upload them, and I don't want to upload photos you already have.

I know that it's a toy. It stays in my apartment.

Love you too,

Elder Matthew Blanding

P.S. - Sorry I couldn't write you on Monday. We had a meeting in Macon and it took up the whole day. President Cottle said we could move our P-day to today this week. Monday's my next P-day.

 

P.P.S. - Forgot to mention this. On Thursday I went on exchanges with the zone leaders, Elders Duran and Allen. I stayed in my area with Elder Duran. Elder Higgins and I had planned a meeting with an investigator that lives 30 miles away, so we had a member take us. Because none of us knew how to get to her house, we used the GPS. The GPS took us down a questionable road that eventually turned into mud. Eventually, we got stuck. We tried for two hours to get out on our own. Elder Duran and I left the member with the truck and walked about a mile down the road to find someone to pull us out. Now my suit pants are all coved in mud and my shoes were (I have since cleaned them). That certainly was a fun experience.

Elder Matthew Blanding's shoes

Elder Matthew Blanding's shoes

You're forgetting the warm up and cool down times. They add a total of 10 minutes to the time. It's ok for it to be wrong. I figured it out.

Thanks for praying for them.

I keep remembering stuff I should have put in my original email! We had a small miracle this week. One of our new investigators is amazing. Her name's A*. She actually contacted us. A friend of hers goes to a neighboring ward and they started talking. We've already taught her the first two lessons and we're meeting with her tonight. She is absolutely golden. She's already on date for May 7th. Although, we're trying to move it forward. I actually invited her to be baptized.

April 4, 2016,

Hey Mom,

I'm not sure what to do with the bike situation too. I'm sure it'll be alright to call them. Thanks for the information. If you can, describe the bike. That's all that I can think of.

The work's been great. We haven't been teaching a whole bunch, but we've been teaching. We've been picking up where the other elders left off on this one kid named K*. His little brother was baptized about a year ago, but due to complications with parents, K* wasn't. However, K* talked to his godfather (they have different godfathers) and he said yes. He's on date for the 30th. Can you believe it? Two weeks in and already someone I've taught is making the commitment.

I'm getting the hang of things. Elder Higgins has definitely been a help. I just need to be patient with myself. I won't be perfect over night.

Thanks for the package. I got it on Tuesday. I enjoyed the thin mints. Thank you for the last minute addition. I've really enjoy having it with me. The youth in the ward think it's cool too. Elder Higgins actually knows how to do it too. Not to brag, but I'm faster ;).

The food so far has been pretty good. I found it funny that you sent me PB&J makings. Because I had just bought my own the day before. The elders before us left a can of Sloppy-Joe makings and some hamburger patties. So I made Sloppy-Joes. Also, they left some instant grits. I think I'm getting used to grits. Turns out plain grits aren't very tasty, that is unless you put something in it. For example, something like Sloppy-Joes :). It was surprisingly good. While I'm on the subject, could you email me the recipes for your chili and corn bread, as well as muddy buddies?

I feel bad saying this but, no photos again :(. The computers at the library don't like talking to my camera. Also, it would be great if you could leave the last photo I sent you so I know where I'm at with the photos.

Love,

Elder Matthew Blanding

True At All Times.

March 15, MTC week 2

Hey Mom,

Not a lot has been happening here. We got a new district in. They're pretty chill. One of them is from Portland. I send you some photos. 

I believe the elder second from the right is the one from Portland--Elder Chandler

I believe the elder second from the right is the one from Portland--Elder Chandler

I am definitely enjoying myself. Elder Cahoon's 5th great-grandfather's name is Reynolds Cahoon (he's in the D&C). The days have been flying by. I've been here two weeks already, yet I feel as if I got here yesterday. 

My classes are awesome. I've been learning so much. Just last night I had an amazing faith building experience. We were reading from 3 Nephi 11. My teacher asked us to close our eyes (pretty risky) and visualize what it would be like if we were there. It strengthened my love for the savior and why I decided to come on my mission. The lessons with Sister Wiser (the teacher this happened with) has a reputation to cause one of us to cry, the Spirit's so strong. I normally don't cry at her lessons. That wasn't true this time. I was crying my heart out it was that strong.

I just want to say that, I know He loves me. He wants me to come home. I won't walk to Him when my name's called. I'll run. I want to feel His arms around me and hear his voice say I've done enough. I will try as hard as I can to be worthy of His love. I want to share that love. That's why I'm out serving him.

With much love,

Elder Matthew Blanding

P.S.

I ran into Ben yesterday at dinner. That was pretty cool. We had Chick-Fil-A.(Not sure if spelled right.)

Ben and Elder Matthew Blanding (Ben is Matt's cousin)

Ben and Elder Matthew Blanding
(Ben is Matt's cousin)

Elder Matthew Blanding and Elder McComber These two are from the same stake and were Stripling Warriors in the play "Built on the Rock". Elder McComber is going to New Jersey. 

Elder Matthew Blanding and Elder McComber
These two are from the same stake and were Stripling Warriors in the play "Built on the Rock". Elder McComber is going to New Jersey. 

Elder Matthew Blanding and Elder Thomas Harper Thomas is a good friend from the same stake. He is going to Tokyo Japan

Elder Matthew Blanding and Elder Thomas Harper
Thomas is a good friend from the same stake. He is going to Tokyo Japan

March 8, 2016, First Email Home

Hey mom!

My P-day is Tuesday. I leave the MTC on the 21st.

I have two companions, Elder Pinero and Elder Cahoon. Elder Pinero is from Provo, and Elder Cahoon is from Rexberg.

Elder Pinero and Elder Matthew Blanding

Elder Pinero and Elder Matthew Blanding

Elder Matthew Blanding and Elder Cahoon

Elder Matthew Blanding and Elder Cahoon

It's definitely hard adjusting to the food. I am eating. Not as much as my companions, but I'm eating.

Why wouldn't I be working and praying hard? 

I absolutely LOVE it here! My companions are great. My teachers are great. I wouldn't want to be somewhere else either. I have been learning so much, that it's hard to keep track of it all. My district is very small. There's only five of us, My companions and I and two sisters. The elders from the previous district left yesterday for the field. They're pretty cool. We started a tradition with them to retire a tie the night before we leave the MTC. You sign the tie with your name, where you're serving and when you left for the field. Place the tie in the box and pass it on to the next district.

I've never felt the Spirit so much until now. This truly is a holy place. I can't wait to  hear from you and that Chris will be joining me in the field.

I was able to write you on Friday night. Did you not get it? Well, it doesn't really matter now. I'm not sure if you know about this, but there's a website called Dear Elder. It's a website that will take your emails and print them out a mail it to me that same day. My unit is unit 33. I look forward to hearing from you.

I'm sending some of my photos home. Also, there are some of Jessie's photos/video from dance on it. Can I delete those? I'm sending them too just in case you don't have them already.

Love,

Elder Matthew Blanding

(My first MTC email.)

    Hey Mom! 

    My first two days have been great. I'm in a trio. My companions names are Elder Cahoon, and Elder Pinero. Elder Cahoon is from Rexberg ID, and Elder Pinero lives five minutes from the MTC. He can see his house from our classroom. I love my companions.

    Today was pretty rough. I woke up feeling awful. Still kinda do. I think it'll pass.

    Anyways, besides being sick, I am truly enjoying my time here. I get to be the pianist in my branch.

    Well, goodnight. Love you. I would write more, but I just want to go to bed.

    With much love,

    Elder Matthew Blanding

Elder Cahoon, Elder Pinero, Elder Matthew Blanding, Sister Tobin and Sister Finch Matt's District at the MTC

Elder Cahoon, Elder Pinero, Elder Matthew Blanding, Sister Tobin and Sister Finch
Matt's District at the MTC

March 2, 2016: He's Off

[This first post will be written by me, Doreen Blanding, Matt's mom. The rest of the blog will be his letters home. I might stick in some editorials every now and then, but for the most part, these are Matt's words and pictures home.]

We dropped Matt off at the MTC March 2nd and I cried. We went for ice cream to console my heart. It didn't work. I really miss Matt. I can't wait for my first letter home and it better be soon!

On Friday, March 5, 2016, we got an email from Ron Harper whose son, Elder Thomas Harper is in the MTC right now with this message:
Matt Blanding, one of my friends from Washington, came to the MTC on Wednesday, as well as Nathaniel Nemeth. I've only found Matt so far, but it was still fun. Sadly, he did not bring a Rubix cube like I thought he would, so he couldn't solve one for me again. He is really good at solving those, with his best time under 20 seconds, hence why I wanted to see him solve it again. It's awesome how fast he is at that. I can't solve those things period.  He was happy, excited, and "High on life" (1997(c)Matt Blanding). He seems to be taking it well. He thinks that the MTC is really fun, and his companion seems like a great guy.

I'm happy! 

Elder Matthew Blanding jumping for joy! 

Elder Matthew Blanding jumping for joy! 

Elder Matthew Blanding and Jason. 

Elder Matthew Blanding and Jason. 

Doreen (mom) and Elder Matthew Blanding

Doreen (mom) and Elder Matthew Blanding

Steve (dad) and Elder Matthew Blanding

Steve (dad) and Elder Matthew Blanding

The cousins!

The cousins!

Elder Matthew Blanding and Doreen (his mom). 

Elder Matthew Blanding and Doreen (his mom).