Favorite Scripture

Helaman 5:12 "And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."

Monday, July 30, 2012

First Letter!

Mi familia,
Hola! First week has been pretty awesome. My companion's name is Elder Kingsford and he's from Bountiful. This letter is going to just be a bunch of random stuff.....so here we go =). The first day I was here was pretty good, pretty chill. We had mostly orientation stuff. Thursday we hit the road running, we started learing spanish, mostly basic missionary phrases like how are you and things like that. Lot's of study time. Between personal, language study and other study time, there's probably 8 hours or more of study time per day. A lot of our time is spent in a classroom with the rest of our district (about 9 other elders). Our teacher is Hermano (brother) Snyder. He served his mission in Mexico and he's a pretty funny guy and he makes learning spanish fun. Friday we really started learning stuff. We learned/memorized how to give a prayer and learned to bear our testimonies in spanish. We also had to teach Francisco (an RM acting as an investigator) a lesson in spanish. Notes were allowed but it was still tough to teach a whole lesson in spanish. But we forgot to ask if we could come in (we knocked on a classroom door that was his "house"), so we stood there for literally like 1 minute standing there with blank faces trying to figure out how to ask if we could come in. After a little he finally motioned us in. I said, "Si, gracias". Lol. The first lesson took about 10-15 minutes. Not too shabby for our 2nd day =). Also on friday we took a tour of the campus. The first thing we did was smell a tree....we were walking around and our guide was like, "hey come smell this tree! It smells like cream soda!" Oddly enough it actually smelled like cream soda.....I think it was a pinion pine or something. Apparently it's tradition to smell the tree when you're new. Lol. Saturday we taught another lesson to Francisco. This lesson went better than the first but we didn't have as much time to prepare so it was pretty short, about 10 minutes. Sunday was pretty awesome. Lot's of time to relax and study/watch the District. We had a Fireside, a sacrament meeting, a film and a branch meeting. All of them were awesome. Overall a very spiritual day. Today (monday) is our P-day. It's pretty laid back with lots of down time. I'm liking it =). Sorry if I miss answering some of your questions, I don't have your letters with me right now. Awesome a snake skin! I don't think I've seen one before....Yes I'm learing spanish and I can say a variable prayer (It's not just the same thing over and over) and testimony from memory and other basic phrases. Cooper, I would love to jump on the trampoline with you but it'll have to wait a couple of years =). I'm having fun... I can't remember what else was asked lol. I might make a few typo's and grammatical errors mom, but here's my testimony in spanish (without outside help =) ). Yo se que esta iglesia es veradero. Yo se que Jesus es el Cristo y nuestro Redentor. Yo se que la Expiacion es verdadero y nos ayudamos estamos (?) a vivir feliz. Esta conocimiento me ayuda a una buena persona. En el nobre de Jesucristo, amen. That's right Hunter....who can speak spanish now!?
Love you all,
Elder Black

Friday, July 27, 2012

MTC Address

Skylar will be at the Provo MTC until August 14, he will then go to the MTC in Peru for 6 weeks.  I have listed his addresses if you would like to write him a letter or send a package.

Elder Skylar Michael Black
Provo Missionary Training Center Box 297 08/14
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604

Peru MTC
Centro de Capacitacion Missional
Malrejo 159 La Molina
Lima 12

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Big day has arrived, Wednesday July 25 @ 12:40 p.m.

Together one last time for 2 years.
We thought we'd photoshop Katarina in later...

On to the MTC...

Elder Black, ready, set...


Monday, July 23, 2012

Farewell Talk Given in Young Single Adults Ward

Good morning everyone. My name is Skylar Black, and I've been called to serve in the Quito, Ecuador Spanish speaking mission. And I enter the MTC July 25th.
I have been asked to talk on patriotism. Now I'm not what you would consider the most patriotic person. If people didn't constantly tell me when the 4th of July was I would probably forget. I am glad I was assigned this topic because it is something I feel I could really work on.

  • To keep things simple, I divided my talk into 3 main parts 1. Define what patriotism is 2. Show good examples of patriotism 3. What can I do to be more patriotic?
  • First, what is patriotism? It might sound like a silly question, but I feel that patriotism is one of those words that you throw around but can’t exactly put a definition to. When I first tried to come up with a definition of patriotism, my mind went to the founding fathers and those that helped found this country. Although they are great examples of patriotism, the true meaning of patriotism is much simpler than the major events and people that we often associate patriotism with. Now, no talk is complete without a reference to Webster’s dictionary, so here you go. According to Webster’s, patriotism is defined as a love for or devotion to one's country.
  • Patriotism, according to Adlai E. Stevenson is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime
  • Another definition of Patriotism by Robert k. Thomas states, “The qualities that distinguish patriotism are all of the “homely” variety: respect, integrity, loyalty, self-sacrifice, consideration, fairness, appreciation, and devotion.
  • Nowhere in these definitions did it say you had to have the preamble memorized, or be a war veteran to be considered patriotic. To sum up, patriotism is a state of being, a steady devotion and support to our country throughout our life. Nothing extraordinary or world changing is required.

  1. With these definitions in mind, let’s look at some good examples of patriotism. Perhaps one of the most famous examples of patriotism is George Washington.. The 1st United States Congress voted to pay Washington a salary of $25,000 a year—a large sum in 1789. Washington, already wealthy, declined the salary, since he valued his image as a selfless public servant. At the urging of Congress, however, he ultimately accepted the payment, to avoid setting a precedent whereby the presidency would be perceived as limited only to independently wealthy individuals who could serve without any salary. The president, aware that everything he did set a precedent, attended carefully to the pomp and ceremony of office, making sure that the titles and trappings were suitably republican and never emulated European royal courts. To that end, he preferred the title "Mr. President" to the more majestic names suggested. Washington reluctantly served a second term. He refused to run for a third, establishing the customary policy of a maximum of two terms for a president. This to me is a perfect example of patriotism. He was content with his life and didn’t even want to become president. He declined a salary, only wanting to be a public servant. Everything he did was to be an example to the citizens and to future presidents.
  • An equally good example is Captain Moroni  he rallied the Nephites to defend their liberties from a group of dissenters who wanted to establish their leader as a king. Moroni was so angry with the dissenters and and their wicked influence that he rent his coat and wrote upon it, "In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children". With these words, he rallied his people to defend their families and their freedom, chasing the armies of Amalickiah away in the process. Any dissenters that remained, Moroni put to death, and raised up the title of liberty upon every Nephite tower. Captain Moroni had a love of his country and the people in it. He was willing to give up his life to protect his country. Captain Moroni, in my opinion, is epitome of patriotism. 
  1. Finally, what can we do now to increase or show our patriotism? Not all of us can be like George Washington or Captain Moroni but there are many things that we can do to show our patriotism in our own community. One young LDS wife, for example, served as chairman of the city’s conservation commission until her first child was born. At that point she turned over the demanding responsibilities of the chairmanship to another commissioner. She commented recently that when her children are in school and she has a little more free time, she will again become more active in community affairs.
This is the position that all of us are in. No kids and for a lot of us, or at least me, lots of free time. There are plenty of opportunities for us to serve our country, we just have to know where to look and be willing take time to take advantage of them.
  • Another major opportunity that we all have is voting. Many countries do not have this opportunity and we are lucky to have it. Though there are many, including myself, that do not take advantage of this.
  • I live in a house where my dad watches the news, debates, and Glenn Beck and he tries to indoctrinate me on the evils of our current government. For which I am somewhat grateful for. But much of what I hear about politicians is negative and I have started to tune out whenever I heard the word politics. My dad jokes that he’ll vote for the worst and most scummy politicians to try and get the 2nd coming to get here faster. Although I know he’s just kidding I think a lot of people use a declining government as an excuse to not participate in the political process. Cheryll May says, Some argue that since the world is presently engaged in the last tragic scenes of a drama which (as the Lord has revealed) must inevitably end in the destruction of all the kingdoms of men, it is hopeless to try to maintain (or restore) honesty, accountability, or effectiveness to one’s political system. No matter how bad you think the government is, we still have a duty to vote. The Lord surely cannot be pleased when those of his children blessed with a democratic form of government refuse to grasp the opportunities it offers for active civic participation and allow their potential for gaining greater understanding and mastery of self-government to atrophy.
 Even more simple way of showing patriotism than voting is, developing our own testimonies. What better way of becoming a patriot than by strengthening our relationship with our Heavenly Father, the one who founded this very nation. Robert K. Thomas said, “A child who has a testimony of Jesus Christ already has a good basis for becoming a patriot. If a child with only a testimony can become a patriot, then surely us young adults can become patriots through developing our testimonies and our relationship with our Heavenly Father and being a good example for those around us to follow.

In closing I would like to bear my testimony that I know that this church is true. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that he translated the Book of Mormon. I know this because I prayed to know if the Book of Mormon is true and God told me that it was. I know the Atonement is real and that anybody can use its power. I also have a testimony of prayer and the spirit it brings and the closeness that you can have with Heavenly Father through prayer. This is my last Sunday in this ward and I've loved being here. I love the spirit that is here and I especially love the testimonies meetings. You all have such strong testimonies and I admire you for your willingness to share your testimonies. I would like to thank the elders quorum presidency and their example and also for those that teach in elders quorum. I always enjoy going to elder’s quorum and being able to feel the spirit there. I would also like to thank Wes Harward, for all the work he put into teaching mission prep. If any of you haven't been to mission prep I would recommend it, even if you aren't considering going on a mission. It really is an awesome class for anyone. Again I know this church is true with all my heart and I'm grateful to be able to serve the lord and his people in Ecuador. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Skylar's Farewell Talk given in home Ward

Skylar- July 22, 2012

Hello everyone. For those of you who don’t know me; my name is Skylar Black. I have been called to the Ecuador Quito Spanish speaking mission and I leave this Wednesday for the Provo MTC. I’m not nervous about speaking but my throat is dry and my voice might crack while I’m speaking. If it does its okay to laugh about is because it IS funny.
I have been asked to speak on a talk given by Elder Ballard in this April’s General Conference. It is titled “That the lost may be found”. It focuses on the importance of families. Since missions are focused around families, this is the perfect topic and I’ve prepared it with a mission context.
Elder Ballard focuses on 4 points in his talk which will be the framework for my talk as well. The 4 points being: 1. Prioritizing 2. Do things in the right order 3. Husbands and wives should be equal partners in marriage and 4. Use the family resources of the church.
First is prioritizing. Put everything you do outside the home in subjection to and in support of what happens inside your home. President David O. McKay’s said it best when he said “No other success can compensate for failure in the home”. A strong family is critical. In the context of going on a mission, how serving a mission supporting my family? Me, being the oldest of the kids in my family, I have been told a bazillion times that I have to set a good example for my brothers and sisters and that for good or bad, they follow my example. I don’t know of a much better way to set an example for my family than by being willing and worthy to serve a full time mission. Hopefully my brothers and sisters seeing how awesome I am will inspire them to be as cool as me. Aside from me supporting my own family, on my mission I will be helping other families to be able to support themselves by helping them to come unto Christ through the restored Gospel. In Elder Ballard’s talk he counsels parents on how to keep their children on the right track, he says, “Organize your personal lives to provide time for prayer and scriptures and family activity. Give your children responsibilities in the home that will teach them how to work. Teach them that living the gospel will lead them away from the filth, promiscuity, and violence of the Internet, media, and video games. They will not be lost, and they will be prepared to handle responsibility when it is thrust upon them.” As a missionary I will be helping the parents, who are also God’s children, to do these very things. Again, teach them to organize their personal lives to provide time for prayer and scriptures and family activities. And that living the gospel will lead them away from filth, promiscuity, and violence of the Internet, media, and video games. They will not be lost, and they will be prepared to handle responsibility when it is thrust upon them.” Our job as missionaries is to help others develop a strong relationship with our Heavenly Father so that when the missionaries leave, they will be prepared to choose the right on their own, rely on God and lead their family down the straight and narrow once the missionaries leave.
Second, we need to do things in the right order! Marriage first and then family. Too many in the world have forgotten this natural order of things and think they can change it or even reverse it. Recent statistics say that 40% of children in America are born to unmarried parents. It is apparent that traditional values in the world are being degraded. Unwed parents are also common in many places outside of the United States; including where I am serving. As representatives of Jesus Christ it is our responsibility to show others that the best route is marriage in a temple. President Packer said, "The ultimate end of all activity in the Church is to see a husband and his wife and their children happy at home, protected by the principles and laws of the gospel, sealed safely in the covenants of the everlasting priesthood.” I can think of no greater blessing to families than enabling them to participate in the ordinances that are performed in the temple and allowing them to gain an even closer relationship with our Heavenly Father. Helping families be sealed in the temple, along with helping them to come unto Christ is our ultimate goal as missionaries.
Third, husbands and wives should be equal partners in marriage. In today’s society women are continually comparing themselves with men. They argue that women are perfectly capable of performing any occupation that men do and can do it just as well or better. Although women can and do well in the work force that should not be their primary role if possible. I couldn’t find the talk, I believe it was by Elder Holland, if anybody knows the reference, please let me know. Paraphrasing him he said, “Women should not compare themselves to men, they need not stoop to our level”. Having different roles does not mean that one is better or inferior to another. Men are meant to be the head of the home, and women are meant to be the heart of the home. There is no shame in a woman staying home and righteously raising a family while the husband is working to provide for the family. Part of a missionary’s job is to help others see that husbands and wives have equal roles. When they marry in the temple they become partners for eternity and they need to know that it is a combined effort of the two that will ensure eternal happiness of themselves and their children.
And finally, use the family resources of the Church. In raising children, families can draw upon the help of the ward. Support and work in tandem with priesthood and auxiliary leaders, and take full advantage of the Church’s youth and family programs. I can attribute where I am today in part to the young men’s program and scouting. The Mutual program helps build every aspect of life: social, physical, educational, mental and spiritual. A wide array of activities help prepare young men and women for missions, marriage and raising children by strengthening their relationship with our Heavenly Father and providing knowledge and experiences that will help them throughout their entire lives. The scouting program teaches various skills and helps young men build character through service to neighbors, communities and many others. Inviting investigators to mutual, scouting or other ward activities is a great way to get them involved in the ward. One of the most important things for an investigator to know is that they are welcomed into the ward. If the parents feel that they and their children are welcome in the ward they are much more likely to continue their church attendance. I believe this goes for the families of the active as well. Attending church activities will help strengthen the camaraderie of members within a ward and also help strengthen their own conversion and testimonies.
In closing I would like to bear my testimony that I know that this church is true. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that he translated the Book of Mormon. I know this because I prayed to know if the Book of Mormon is true and God told me that it was. I know the Atonement is real and that anybody can use its power. I also have a testimony of prayer and the spirit it brings and the closeness that you can have with Heavenly Father through prayer. I have lived in this ward for 14 years and it’s been awesome. I’ve had so many great leaders and teachers in this ward and I thank you for all the time you spent preparing lessons and activities and helping me prepare to serve a mission. I have many memories of scout trips and they were always one of my favorite things to do. I would like to thank all the family and friends that have taken the time to come and support me. I want my family to know that even though I tease them a lot I still love them, I know it will be hard to have fun without me, but try and manage somehow. Again I know this church is true and I'm grateful to be able to serve the lord and his people in Ecuador. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.